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Meet Nevada's new Assembly Speaker

In this April 7, 2010 photo, security changes at the Capitol, in Carson City, Nev., include several boulders placed around the entrances.
In this April 7, 2010 photo, security changes at the Capitol, in Carson City, Nev., include several boulders placed around the entrances.
Republicans had a great year in elections nearly everywhere, but they had an especially impressive cycle in Nevada. The incumbent GOP governor won in a landslide; Republicans took down a Democratic congressman who was not thought to be vulnerable; and the party took control of Nevada's state legislature.
As a result of the Republican gains in Nevada, the state Assembly will have a new Speaker when lawmakers return to work next year. The new GOP majority was initially expected to elevate the current Assembly Republican leader, but instead the party chose Speaker-designate Ira Hansen (R).
And as it turns out, Hansen carries a lengthy paper trail behind him. The News Review reports today:

No Nevada official has ever given the public a more detailed blueprint to his thinking than Hansen. For many years, starting on May 11, 1994, he wrote a column for the Sparks Tribune. The Tribune did not go online until relatively recently, so access to and knowledge of most of the Hansen columns has not been easy. We reviewed every column on microfilm for this piece, covering a period of 13 years, plus a few that did make it onto the Trib website. In these columns, his viewpoint evolved very little. In fact, some columns ran unchanged time and again as the years passed.

Hansen, a Republican who opposed both Bob Dole's and Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns for being "too liberal," has a record that's so over the top, it wouldn't be too surprising if the findings cause Nevada lawmakers to reconsider their decision.
The Speaker-designate, for example, seems to have a problem with modern feminism.

"So what happened between 1960 and 2001?" he wrote four years later. "Major social changes that negatively affected the family. Childbearing was reduced to an average of two kids. ... Divorce rates skyrocketed. 'Child care' became an industry. Child abuse skyrocketed. Thanks to the 'sexual revolution' and the 'women's liberation movement,' women chose to act as foolishly as men, and illegitimacy also went through the roof. ... Abortions get about one out of every four children conceived."

There are also several controversial comments regarding the African-American community.

Hansen has said he keeps a Confederate battle flag on the wall where he writes his columns. "I fly it proudly in honor and in memory of a great cause and my brave ancestors who fought for that cause," he wrote.Hansen tends to use the term "Negro" and often does not capitalize it.... 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."

And Latinos.

Latinos did not escape his attention: "Locally, gangs and their associated criminal activity are obviously dominated by immigrants, especially Hispanic immigrants. You cannot read a story about criminals or watch a news report locally without noticing a grossly disproportionate amount of Hispanic involvement."

And gay people.

Hansen seems to define men who abuse boys as homosexual, though the scholarship says that most abuse is committed by heterosexuals. He also seems to consider gays to be deviant by definition. [...] Apparently never expecting public sentiment on gays to change, Hansen defined gay candidates by their sexuality, using the term "homosexual" as a weapon.

Political scientist Norm Ornstein characterized Hansen's leadership post as the "new chapter" of the "lunacy" of the contemporary Republican Party. It's a fair assessment under the circumstances.
Postscript: There's been a lot of attention today about Hansen referring to African Americans as "simple-minded darkies." That's obviously an outrageous and disgusting phrase, but in context, Hansen seemed to be conveying a sarcastic sentiment, suggesting it's Democrats who think of black people as "simple-minded darkies."