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February 1, 2015

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Governor’s race tightens as budget debate avoided

Reid creeping up in polls on Sandoval, whose plan is unknown

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

Rory Reid

Rory Reid

Sun Coverage

Less than two weeks before early voting begins the candidates for governor are paying scant attention to the state’s budget deficit — the issue that will monopolize the first months in office for the state’s CEO.

Rory Reid, the Democrat, has released a budget plan that balances spending with vague assertions about cutting waste and finding efficiencies, combined with a rosy economic forecast.

Brian Sandoval, the Republican, has offered nothing but a promise that at some point between now and Nov. 2 — he won’t say when, exactly — he will unveil a plan.

As the candidates prepare for their second debate, Thursday in Las Vegas, they have yet to engage in a robust deliberation of the state’s future or detailed examination of how they would bridge the state’s projected $3 billion deficit.

Reid is spending his campaign money accusing Sandoval of being too close to special interests.

Sandoval, for the first time, has responded to a Reid attack by calling his opponent a hypocrite for leveling that accusation. Reid was formally a lobbyist and works for a law firm with a long list of powerful clients, Sandoval has noted.

This direct response to Reid and some recent polls signal the race, which at one point had Sandoval up by more than 20 points, has tightened.

One poll last month, by respected Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, had Reid within 6 points of Sandoval. Another survey, by Rasmussen, last week had Reid trailing Sandoval by 13 points.

Those numbers have some observers thinking that Sandoval’s approach — nursing his double-digit lead by avoiding mistakes rather than discussing policy — is wearing thin.

“There’s a perception problem. People are beginning to think there’s an unwillingness (from Sandoval) to debate the issues,” said Fred Lokken, a political science professor at Truckee Meadows Community College. “There seems to be a desire to coast to victory in November. I suspect a growing number of voters in Nevada feel like they’re being taken for granted.”

Sandoval said that perception is untrue. He has a robust, if not exactly public, schedule touring businesses and schools and meeting with groups.

Reid attempted to pressure Sandoval to release a budget plan late last week through a news release and an ad on the Web calling for the Republican to debate the budget.

Sandoval appears content to wait, saying only that he won’t raise taxes and might raise money by selling state buildings and leasing them back from private buyers.

In an interview, Sandoval called Reid’s budget plan “worse than nothing. It’s not realistic. If a governor presented that budget to the Legislature, he’d be laughed out of the building.”

Reid shot back: “We’ve at least had the courage to say something.”

Sandoval has a history of taking his time before taking action. When he was attorney general, the capital media referred to him as “snail-paced Sandoval” for his deliberative process before making a decision.

“I know it sounds trite, but I’m still working on it,” Sandoval said. “I’m not going to put out something that is unrealistic, like the Reid campaign did.”

Reid said Sandoval is running “the most empty campaign in the history of Nevada politics. He’s unwilling to have a substantive debate. I think he thinks that Nevadans don’t deserve to know what he will do.”

But Reid is, so far, unwilling to get into the details of his plan.

Parts of Reid’s budget plan seem unrealistic, such as his promise to cut administrative costs by half and his proposal to transfer $100 million from transportation to the general fund, which would violate the state constitution.

Reid has promised not to cut K-12 or higher education beyond extending the existing furloughs and not to raise taxes. Sandoval pointed out that 55 percent of the state’s budget is K-12 and higher education. He said there needs to be “shared sacrifice.”

Reid’s retort: “I’m not going to debate with myself. Brian needs to come forward. His refusal to do that is the reason his campaign fails.”

Some political observers, though, say voters waiting for that substantive budget debate will likely have to continue waiting. Such back and forth is an inside game, one the general voting public doesn’t care much about right now.

“The voters this year are not focused on substantive policy differences,” said Billy Vassiliadis, a Democratic political consultant who sometimes advises Reid. “Voters are angry. They want to send a message. I think voters will pick who they trust more, or at least who they mistrust least.”

Republican consultant Robert Uithoven agreed.

“I just don’t think people are going to be demonstrating outside his campaign for a budget plan,” he said. “I don’t think the public is going to the polls and voting on a budget plan. They’re going to the polls voting for a candidate they want to see be governor.”

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  1. Better knowing what a candidate will do when elected than have another Gov. Gibbons, telling you as little as possible to get elected.

  2. Nevada's choice;
    Another Empty Suit right out of the same mold as Ensign & Gibbons, that is 100% in the hip-pocket of Mining & Gaming, that will follow the EXACT SAME GAME PLAN, which has been ruinous, and who has been coronated and crowned by the same backdoor deal-makers Nevada is accustomed to...


    The goofy looking, bespectacled Son of a Senator.

    Give Rory Reid his due.
    He had NO SHOT.
    Yet, he's come out with some credible plans, ON PAPER no less, of what he would try to accomplish as Governor.
    A "for the people" plan...
    as opposed to a "for the chosen few" plan that Sandoval would MOST CERTAINLY follow to a TEE... That would further erode the quality of life of the Majority of Nevadans...

    That's the choice, really;
    For the "Chosen Few" Sandoval...
    For the MAJORITY of the people Rory...

    No wonder the polls are tightening up; I wonder if Sandoval
    feels the building pressure to actually SAY SOMETHING...

  3. It's baffling how politicians can't see what we, The People see. Are they blinded by power? Several of us citizens could get together and go over the state budget line by line and find ways to cut spending and balance the budget. But politicians don't seem to want to do the difficult work.

  4. R. Reid demonstrated an almost complete lack of ethics in a recent ad in which questions and answers from a videotaped interview were transposed and edited to put Sandoval in a false light.

    Add to that Reid's most recent ad that completely ignores his own lobbying activity and clients and one must question what new depths of unethical behavior we would see in the Governor's Mansion if he were to win.

  5. We still have no clear idea how either major party candidate for governor would handle a state budget that needs to be cut about in half to be balanced without new taxes. Democrats can hope that their guy would fix things their way. At least their candidate has come out with a "plan" -- vague, but a "plan". Republicans can hope that their candidate would do things their way, but he seems to have just danced around any commitment to anything other than taking a look at things and coming up with a plan when he is elected. As an independent, I find myself needing more than another rosy scenario or getting the regal hand gesture as the royal carriage rolls by in the distance carrying the anointed one to his coronation.

    OK maybe we have a budgeting problem that makes things look worse than they are, but, it seems that the best case is that we have to cut about a quarter of the budget immediately, and the worst case could require cutting well over half the budget. Either way, Nevada would be seriously crippled. The trick will be to cut so that the damage is temporary, not permanent. Isn't that worth some straight talk by a would-be Governor?

  6. I want to know why nothing has been said about the other candidates for governor. Do any of them have plans? Or at least ideas? Do any of them represent a different way of thinking?

    So far I've been most impressed with Art Lampitt:

    He might not have all the answers, yet, but he wants to see pot be legalized. He can't be all wrong thinking like that. :)

  7. Rory Reid for Governor? He can't run Clark County, how can he run the State of Nevada?