Republicans backed Hansen over a more moderate pick. And given the more moderate and pro-abortion rights Sandoval has often clashed with more conservative elements of his party, it seems quite possible Hansen could be a thorn in his side for the next few years -- just as he the governor is primed to build more of a national profile.
Hansen's ascent also suggests that Nevada, a state that President Obama won twice, is headed the way of North Carolina, where Republicans in power for the first time in many decades used that power to pass some controversial bills -- often to the detriment of Gov. Pat McCrory (R) and the still-successful campaign of Speaker and new Sen.-elect Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
The Reno News Review dug up some of Hansen's columns for the Sparks Tribune dating back to 1994, and it is pretty stunning stuff.
From their piece, which is based on a review of 13 years of Hansen's columns:
Also in 1997: “Today, when Army men look at women in the ranks with 'longing in their eyes' it very well may constitute 'sexual harassment.' The truth is, women do not belong in the Army or Navy or Marine Corps, except in certain limited fields.”He wrote that African-Americans are insufficiently grateful for being given their freedom: "The lack of gratitude and the deliberate ignoring of white history in relation to eliminating slavery is a disgrace that Negro leaders should own up to."In 1996 Hansen blamed Sparks High School tuberculosis cases on immigrants but cited no evidence of such linkage. “Sparks High is now an 'At Risk' school, a polite way of saying it has a very high minority population,” he wrote. Actually, the at-risk term refers to a school with a high probability of dropouts and academic failures.In an attack on public education and teacher unions, Hansen wrote, “The Democratic coalition would split asunder if the NAACP & co. actually promoted what black Americans truly desire — educational choice. The shrewd and calculating [black] ’leaders’ are willing to sacrifice the children of their own race to gratify their lust for power and position. The relationship of Negroes and Democrats is truly a master-slave relationship, with the benevolent master knowing what’s best for his simple minded darkies. For American blacks, being denied choice and forced to attend the failing and inferior government school system is a form of involuntary servitude. Let’s call it what it truly is — educational slavery.”
For Sandoval, who has until this point had a Democratic-controlled legislature, it means that his next years in office will be about engaging with a more conservative wing of his party anxious to do things he might disagree with or could be unpopular. A similar dynamic played out in North Carolina, with conservatives pushing a very conservative agenda that often forced McCrory's hand and made him seem irrelevant at times.
Sandoval is seen, like Tillis, as a possible Senate candidate against soon-to-be-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) -- if not a potential presidential or vice presidential candidate. If Hansen does steer the legislature in a very conservative direction and Sandoval runs, expect plenty of Reid attaching Sandoval to Hansen. Essentially, a much more conservative Republicans will hold power over the agenda and the Republican brand in Nevada.
One anonymous Nevada source told Jon Ralston the following:
"If we learned one thing [from Hansen's election], it's one thing we already knew: This caucus does not like being told what to do by the governor."
That's an ominous thought for Sandoval's political future.