Nevada Republican Says He's Not a Bigot Just Because He'd Vote to Allow Slavery

This past August, Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler wanted to make a point of how devoted he was to his constituents. And let's put it this way, if Wheeler's constituents in Nevada's District 39 ever believe in resurrecting slavery, we're all in trouble. 

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This past August, Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler wanted to make a point of how devoted he was to his constituents. And let's put it this way, if Wheeler's constituents in Nevada's District 39 ever believe in resurrecting slavery, we're all in trouble.

"If that’s [slavery] what they wanted, I’d have to hold my nose … they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah," Assemblyman Wheeler told members of the Storey County Republican Party this summer, though the audio of that meeting surfaced on Monday. 

Wheeler was asked about what he'd do for the citizens he represents, the Reno Gazette Journal reports. The question he was answering: "What if those citizens decided they want to, say, bring back slavery? Hey, if that’s what the citizens want, right Jim?"

The correct answer to this elementary school-style of questionining is supposed to be no. Just no. And yes, saying no would make you look like you won't have the people's interest at heart at all times — the point Wheeler was trying to make — but you would be given a pass for slavery. Slavery, in most circles, is a good bottom line.

Because of Wheeler's "but-yeah" motto, members of his own party are mad at him. "He should retract his remarks and apologize," Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement, while Republican Senator Dean Heller said Wheeler was "insensitive and wrong." Nevada Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson tweeted last night, "It's time for Jim Wheeler to find a new line of work."

Wheeler is actually pretty mad with the whole situation, telling the Reno Gazette Journal that he was being falsely portrayed as a bigot and possibly failing to realize that the bigger reason why people are mad is that he's more or less a bigot enabler. "It’s [slavery] disgusting. It’s beyond disgusting," he told the paper. "There is absolutely no room in my life for any bigotry," he added. Unless the voters demand it.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.