Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2004 | 2:41 a.m.
CARSON CITY -- Republican John O'Connor says he can't beat Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, in the upcoming primary election in the Central Nevada Senate District that covers 20,000 square miles.
So O'Connor is trying through the courts to have McGinness declared ineligible on the argument he has served the maximum three four-year terms in the Senate.
In the unlikely event that O'Connor wins, he may not be able to serve. He is facing felony charges of selling 11.7 grams of marijuana to an undercover narcotics officer in December; a conviction would make him ineligible to serve in the Senate.
McGinness, 57, manager of a radio station in Fallon, is seeking his fourth term in the Senate after two terms in the Assembly.
His main platform is economic development for the rural counties. For instance, he said the northern part of the district doesn't want a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain because of the transportation of the waste through their areas. Yet there are a lot of people in the southern part of the district that work at Yucca Mountain and are worried about the jobs being cut.
The winner of the McGinness-O'Connor race will go into the general election against Democrat Freddie Warman of Indian Springs and Kenneth Greenwell, an Independent American candidate from Fallon.
O'Connor, 34, is a heating and air conditioning mechanic that works at the Naval Air Station in Fallon.
O'Connor has filed suits in the Nevada Supreme Court and the district court saying the Constitution limits McGinness to 12 years in the Senate. The voters gave final approval in 1996 to the term-limiting amendment.
McGinness was first elected to the Senate in 1992 and won re-election in 1996 and 2000. The term-limits constitutional amendment was not retroactive. The Supreme Court has dismissed the suit.
McGinness says he hasn't encountered must resistance to the $833.5 million tax increase approved by the 2003 Legislature, which he voted for, calling it a compromise.
The district includes Mesquite and Indian Springs in Clark County, parts of Lyon, Douglas and Nye counties and all of Mineral, Esmeralda and Churchill County.