(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., made it official today, saying he will run for a full-term in District 2 in the 2012 election.
Amodei, on a tour of his district with his Washington, DC staff in tow, made the unsurprising announcement at an open house in his new Reno office in the Bruce Thompson federal building here. Amodei will also visit Elko and Winnemucca on his trip and return to Washington on Sunday.
“First of all it’s Day 55 of the Amodei tenure in congress,” he said in a briefing with the media. “But I think in terms of delivering on the ‘I think I can hit the ground running’ (campaign promise) – (I) introduced two pieces of legislation already, co-sponsored several, first day I was sworn in voted on the right to work deal with NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) and South Carolina – so it’s been a pretty busy time.”
Amodei was elected to replace Dean Heller in a special election Sept. 13, 55 days ago today. Heller was appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval to the U.S. Senate to replace John Ensign, who resigned. Amodei was on his way to Washington the next day and was sworn into office on Sept. 15, casting his first vote the same day.
Amodei said he still feels like the new guy after nearly two months in office, and still has to figure out a way to buy a television and get it back to his apartment on the DC metro.
Amodei said he is grateful for Republican leadership and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., for making room for his appointment to the Natural Resources Committee. Nevada representation on the panel is critical given that 85 percent of the state is under the control of the federal government, he said.
“There was not an opening, and so one of my colleagues was nice enough to say, ‘I’ll step aside to create an opening’, so that was a big deal,” Amodei said.
Amodei’s fledgling legislative efforts include a measure asking the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to go through Congress and not use executive authority to create wilderness areas in the west, and a proposal just introduced to create the Pine Forest Range Wilderness Area north of Winnemucca. The proposal has been endorsed by Humboldt County officials and other stakeholders.
“I firmly believe it’s possible to use resources responsibly in an environmental sense but maintain multiple use concepts, so we’re going to be going forward with that,” Amodei said.
Amodei said he has had good discussions with BLM officials about ways to speed up the permitting process to let mining projects go forward to create jobs in Nevada.
“I can tell you that the complaint I’ve heard the most is the amount of time it takes,” he said.
Amodei said he endorsed Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential race because he is “the most vetted and most electable” of the candidates. Romney is also the only candidate who asked for an endorsement, he said.
“I just think Mitt Romney is the strongest general election candidate in the field right now,” he said.
Amodei also defended his hiring decisions, responding to a Reno Gazette-Journal report that no Nevadans are on his Washington, DC, staff.
The Nevada Democratic Party wasted no time in trying to capitalize on the story: “In case we needed further evidence that Republicans aren’t focused on getting Nevadans back to work, the RGJ reports that career politician and lobbyist Mark Amodei doesn’t have any Nevadans employed in his Washington office. Apparently in the state with the highest unemployment in the country, Amodei could not find one Nevadan to work in his DC office,” spokesman Zach Hudson said in a statement today.
Amodei said he did not turn down any Nevadans for the DC staff jobs, and noted that he and his staff were on the job responding to constituents in record time.