Sandoval Says He's Happy in Nevada Despite Push to Challenge Reid

Image: Sandoval Says He's Happy in Nevada Despite Push to Challenge Reid

Saturday, 15 Mar 2014 04:32 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Some Republicans are looking to popular Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval as the one person who can drive Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid out of Washington in 2016, but the governor may have other ideas.

Republican Sandoval has approval ratings in the mid-60s, reports Politico Magazine, in contrast to Democrat Reid, whose fierce partisan stance alienates people both sides of the aisle in droves.

"It would be a wipeout," a political insider told Politico. "He is 100 percent the perfect candidate against Harry Reid."

Reid has been facing the Sandoval challenge for a long time. About 10 years ago, Reid appointed Sandoval to a federal judgeship, which many at the time considered a move to remove the Republican's threat and still get points for making a bipartisan appointment.

But Sandoval left the bench in 2009 in time to defeat Reid's son, Rory, for governor. Should Sandoval decide to run for the Senate, he stands the chance of defeating a second member of the Reid family for higher office.

Despite Republicans' hopes for Sandoval, the governor seems perfectly content where he is.

He's a favorite for re-election, reports The Reno-Gazette Journal, even though he's vying against 15 candidates who met Friday's deadline to run against him.

"I think it is reflective of the time that we have so many people coming out of the woodwork," Fred Lokken, a political science professor at Truckee Meadows Community College, told the Reno paper. "A lot of them are not credible, in my point of view. But they may be thinking that people are going to listen to them and somehow, they will make a difference."

Reid had promised that he would back a well-known and "respectable" candidate, but none of the nine Democrats who have filed for the race are that person, a possible indication that Reid is not pushing a candidate who could defeat Sandoval and free him from the governor's office.

The best hope for a strong Democrat challenger ended last month when Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak backed out of the race, reports the Journal, prompting Reid to promise that the Nevada Democratic Party would find a strong candidate.

Sandoval said, when filing for re-election, that he is taking all the gubernatorial candidates seriously, and intends to serve all four years in office, despite speculation that he will challenge Reid.

The governor told Politico that he looks forward to going to work every day.

"I made decisions today that affected the economy and tourism, that affected business and housing," Sandoval said. "I don’t think you can do that from 3,000 miles away."

However, Sandoval recruited state Sen. Mark Hutchison as a candidate for lieutenant governor, marking the first time a governor has chosen a candidate for that spot since 1986.

Sandoval says he regrets that the media considers Hutchison's appointment a political move, insisting he is long forward "four and 10 and 20 years," and that there is a need to develop strong Republican leaders.

But Sandoval has had difficulty turning down political opportunity in the past, and if party leaders come calling, he may have a hard time turning them down, just as he did when Republicans approached him to run for the governor's seat.

"I didn’t expect to be approached by Gov. (Bob) Miller to sit on the Gaming Commission," he said. "It never occurred to me as attorney general when I was approached to serve as a federal judge."

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