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November 26, 2014

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Renewable energy company founder will run as Democrat for U.S. Senate in Nevada

Barry Ellsworth gave Rep. Shelley Berkley $1,000 last cycle and likes her “as a person.”

But -- you knew a 'but' was coming - he’s running against her in a Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate – he just filed the paperwork with the Federal Election Commission – and claims he will spend “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to try to defeat her.

“I’m doing it to win,” Ellsworth told me in an interview Wednesday.

This is a quixotic bid at best for the political newcomer, who said he decided to run “for my children” (he has two young boys) and because “of what they” (DC incumbents) have done.”

“There are 16,000 homeless kids in Las Vegas,” Ellsworth said. “They created a housing bubble. They let Wall Street run wild with no regulation. In my mind, they are either incompetent or corrupt.”

He may sound like a scruffy Occupy Wall Street protester, but Ellsworth is not just angry, he has money. He founded a renewable energy company about seven years ago and has since cashed out, now spending his time investing though his company, SAE Capital Partners. The ethanol company he formed is called Green Plains Renewable Energy and he sold most of his stock a few years ago.

He has lived in Nevada since 1998 and has some family ties across the state. His cousin is Mike McClary, a longtime deputy chief with the Las Vegas Metro Police Department.

Ellsworth was born and raised in Utah, went on a Mormon mission to Mexico and was graduated from Brigham Young University before embarking on a career as a stockbroker. He later would start Green Plains and invest in other companies.

Ellsworth also has been a reliable Democratic donor over the years. According to CQ Political MoneyLine, he has given to Democratic congressmen (including Berkley and then-Rep. Dina Titus) and congressional/Senate candidates (Tessa Hafen, Jack Carter) as well as the president, MoveOn.org and the Democratic National Committee.

I can think of much worse profiles for a Democratic candidate in Nevada than a Mormon renewable energy entrepreneur spouting Occupy Wall Street populism.

“I know I could do a better job than either Shelley Berkley or Dean Heller,” Ellsworth insisted. “I know how to create jobs. I know how to create business.”

Ellsworth also does not appear to have stars in his eyes. He understands what he is up against.

“When Harry Reid ran Byron Georgiou out of this race, it really angered me,” he said, referring to the Meddler-in-Chief’s ruthless attempts to shut out ex-Berkley primary opponent Georgiou, who likely has much deeper pockets than Ellsworth. “I want the incumbents out of office, and he (Reid) is sitting here telling someone in the state of Nevada, in America, that you can’t run for public office.”

Well, not starry-eyed, but also not savvy in the ways of Nevada, perhaps.

I asked him if he fretted Reid might try to run him out, too.

“I’m sure he’ll try to make me look as horrible as he can,” Ellsworth said. “But in my opinion, what they have done is worse.”

Ultimately, while Ellsworth says he is running for his children, those boys may provide the best argument why he can’t win, or perhaps even damage Berkley. He will spend significant sums, he said, but, “I’m not going to spend my kids’ money to prove a point.”

That, I’d guess, is music to the ears of Berkley and her sugar daddy, Sen. Reid.

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