LAS VEGAS -At a recent Republican fundraising dinner in Reno, Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey delivered a poorly-received lecture and scolding to the grassroots volunteers and donors in the audience, complaining about the GOP becoming a "small tent party."

Hickey has his knickers in a knot because conservative Republicans are "trying to take out 'our own' in primaries against Republican incumbents because they are not ideologically pure enough."

You mean, um, like how establishment Republicans like Hickey tried, successfully, to take out Republican Gov. Jim  Gibbons in the 2010 GOP primary because he was too conservative?

Deploying a standard defense tactic of moderate Republicans trying to excuse their lack of conservative conviction, Hickey then invoked Ronald Reagan's name, calling for "principled center-of-right conservatism, that is inclusive, not exclusive, like Reagan was."

Of course, Hickey is completely misrepresenting Reagan in his effort to deflect well-earned and well-deserved criticism of his band of Gumby Republicans in the Assembly this last legislative session.

Reagan was a conservative Republican who compromised to the right of center with conservative Democrats. Hickey and his gang are a gaggle of moderate Republicans compromising to the left of center with liberal Democrats. BIG difference.

What Hickey and the Gumbies want - and this includes Gov. Brian Sandoval - is a Republican Party that stands for nothing so they won't have to actually fight for something.

It's the difference between wanting to "be" an elected representative rather than wanting to "do" something as an elected representative. It's the difference between being comfortable in your minority party status, happy to pocket some table scraps from the Democrat majority, rather than doing the hard work of being a true opposition party.

Look, I don't mind having moderate confrontation-averse, political conscientious objectors like Pat Hickey in the big tent. But he should be one of the spectators up in the stands, not the ringleader. And if he truly wants to emulate Ronald Reagan, then he should be "raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues."

In reality though, a banner of pale pastels would be a dramatic improvement over the current practice by Hickey and the Gumbies of raising a white flag at the sound of a pop gun.

Moderate Republicans like Pat Hickey abhor the idea of conservatives challenging moderate incumbents in Republican Party primaries. And he tries to protect such moderates from challenge by invoking Reagan's name.

But let's not forget that such conservative challengers are simply following Reagan's example from 1976, when The Gipper took on incumbent moderate President Gerald Ford in the GOP primary. Simply put, it's the "right" thing to do.

So step up to the plate conservatives. Challenge the RINOs and the Gumbies. Bring on Conservageddon!

Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grassroots advocacy organization. He can be reached at