(Nevada News Bureau Staff) – State Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio said today he will make an endorsement in the neck-and-neck U.S. Senate race within the next few days.
Raggio, R-Reno, the longest serving state lawmaker in Nevada history, told Jon Ralston on the Face To Face television program that there appears to be some interest in his endorsement in the race between Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and GOP rival Sharron Angle.
Polls show the contest as a dead heat between the two candidates.
Raggio, who served as majority leader in the state Senate from 1993 to 2007, was challenged by Angle in his 2008 re-election bid. He won the primary by just over 500 votes.
“I’m not prepared on your program tonight to tell you who I’m going to support in this race between Reid and Angle,” he said.
Raggio said this political season, “has been the most hateful in my memory.”
“But I will announce my support in the next day or so,” he said. “I still have some issues. I think both of these candidates have problems. There are issues in their campaigns that are disturbing.”
On the subject of the upcoming budget debate in the 2011 legislative session, Raggio said his task will be to first determine what essential services must be funded, then determine the gap between those services and anticipated tax revenues. Essential services include education, health and human services and public safety, he said.
Raggio said he expects the shortfall to be about $3 billion if a sunset on a package of tax increases approved by the 2009 Legislature to balance the current budget is not removed.
Both major party candidates for governor have rejected the call for tax increases to balance the state budget.
Raggio said he does not know how the budget can be balanced otherwise.
“I don’t know where they are going to get the money to fund these kind of essential services,” he said.