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August 30, 2014

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Damon Political Report

politics:

What’s Ross Miller trying to say with that money?

Mid-cycle fundraisers raise questions about his political aspirations

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Secretary of State Ross Miller addresses the Nevada State Democratic Party Convention on June 26, 2010, at the Flamingo.

Secretary of State Ross Miller says a pair of fundraisers he held in Reno and Las Vegas this week were simply to replenish his campaign coffers. He’s still paying off bills from 2010 and he uses campaign funds to travel the state when his activities have any connection to politics, Miller said.

Describing them as small-dollar fundraisers (the requested donation for the Reno event was $250), Miller said he doesn’t yet have his eye on any 2014 races.

But in the world of Nevada politics, a mid-cycle fundraiser for a term-limited elected official who is out of terms is almost always intended to send some kind of message on the next election.

In Miller’s case, with three years until Election Day 2014, those close to him are putting out the word that he’s got his eye on the attorney general’s office.

But don’t expect Miller to say that publicly.

“It would be presumptuous to even look at any of those seats this early,” Miller said when asked about the purpose of the fundraisers. “My only focus is serving as secretary of state. As we get closer to the next cycle, if any of the seats appeal to me, we’ll see what those races look like and have a discussion with my family about it.”

Indeed, it is early and the tectonic plates of politics continually shift.

Miller is described in political circles as the man who would be governor if the opportunity arises. The son of former Gov. Bob Miller, he is unlikely to challenge Sandoval unless the governor suffers some dramatic loss of popularity.

(It should be noted, Miller isn’t the only elected official holding mid-cycle fundraisers. Sandoval held a pair of high-dollar events this fall to signal his strength in a 2014 re-election bid.)

Miller also was named as a likely Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., next year had U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., turned down that race.

As the dynamics stand now, however, the attorney general’s race is the most likely path for Miller. And he’s letting those early contributors, who might question why he needs money without a race to run, know it.

“They want him to be first in line for that AG seat and make it known in Democratic circles that’s where he’s going,” said a source close to Miller.

The fundraisers, however, aren’t a push to clear the field for Miller. Such fundraisers would seek to bring in more than $100,000 and be headlined by a formidable slate of backers.

Miller’s events were low-key by comparison.

And with five of the six constitutional offices expected to be open in 2014, it’s unlikely any candidate would be able to clear the field in the manner made famous by the late Gov. Kenny Guinn, who gathered so much early support that it made it nearly impossible for Democrats to mount a challenge.

Republicans are circling those constitutional offices, including attorney general. State Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, who is running to keep his seat in 2012, is reportedly preparing to run for attorney general.

“(Miller) could raise all the money in the world and you’d still have Republicans who would think they have a shot,” the source said.

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