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Opponents of efforts to oust state senators launch "decline to sign" campaign

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Michelle Rindels
Michelle Rindels

Opponents of an effort to oust three state senators who caucus with Democrats and replace them with Republicans have launched a formal campaign to resist the recalls.

A new website called lays out a “Decline to Sign” campaign, urging visitors to report when and where they are approached by signature gatherers and tell friends and family not to sign.

“Out-of-state special interests have launched a power grab for Nevada’s Senate,” the site proclaims. “We need your help to stop them.”

It wasn’t immediately clear who the site was referring to by “out-of-state special interests.” The site calls on “people like you” to scout out recall petitioners and to contact a hotline to report canvassers or to observe recall activity.

Recall efforts have been launched against Democratic state Sens. Joyce Woodhouse and Nicole Cannizzaro and nonpartisan Sen. Patricia Farley over the last two weeks by several Republican-leaning activists and former office-holders, many of whom have not returned calls seeking comment. They seek to replace those lawmakers with Carrie Buck, a Republican who narrowly lost to Woodhouse in 2016, and political newcomers Jared Glover and attorney April Becker.

Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison’s private law firm — Hutchison & Steffen — is handling legal matters for the recall committees, though Hutchison has declined to specifically endorse the efforts while calling them “empowering” for Nevada voters.

Though many Nevada Republicans have kept mum on the ongoing recall efforts, state Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson said on Wednesday that he “fully” supported efforts to recall his colleagues in the state Senate. He’s declined to respond to inquiries about whether he’s involved.

“I am hopeful that the necessary number of signatures will be gathered in each district at the end of 90 days so that voters can have their voice heard,” he said in a statement. “I fully support these efforts.”

To trigger a recall, one-quarter of the voters who participated in the 2016 election must sign a petition within 90 days of the petition being filed. No Nevada lawmaker has ever been successfully recalled.

The resistance group is being funded by a recall-oriented political action committee called “Our Votes, Our Voice,” registered to longtime Democratic Party attorney Bradley Schrager.

According to the PAC's registration form, its officers include former Clark County Democratic Party chair Chris Miller,  Emerge Nevada director Danna Lovell and Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee operative Shelbi Warner.

Woodhouse has also started sending out mailers, paid for out of her legislative account,  encouraging people to "keep Joyce fighting for our kids and teachers" and urging them to "decline to sign" the recall petition.

A second mail piece was released on Friday attacking former Assemblyman Stephen Silberkraus, registered as head of the committee to recall Woodhouse, as a "fetish film star" leading an "unnecessary & expensive recall effort."

Joyce Woodhouse Recall Mailer by Megan Messerly on Scribd

Woodhouse Mailer Decline to Sign by Riley Snyder on Scribd

Reporter Megan Messerly contributed to this report.

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