(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Democrat Rory Reid, chairman of the Clark County Commission and son of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told a crowd of cheering supporters here today he wants to be the next governor of Nevada.
“I am here today because, simply put: Nevada can do better, much better,” he said. “To realize our great potential, Nevada needs a fundamentally new direction. Nevada needs a leader with a new economic plan and vision that moves our state into the 21st century.”
The Northern Nevada announcement comes after his formal declaration of candidacy in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Reid has been traveling the state in preparation for a gubernatorial bid for several months but only made it official this week.
Reid, 47, is expected to face off against either incumbent Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons, who has indicated he plans to run for a second term even with low public approval ratings, former U. S. District Judge Brian Sandoval, who stepped down from the bench to challenge Gibbons in the GOP primary, or former North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon.
In comments to about 100 supporters at Idlewild Park, just west of downtown, Reid stressed his northern Nevada roots and commitment to working for all Nevadans if elected governor.
Reid said he has watched Nevada grow and prosper but now looks on as a severe economic downturn has affected Nevada more than any state in the nation.
“And as I look at Nevada today, I believe we are again at a crossroads,” he said. “There’s an urgency in the air. Nevada has more potential than any other state in America.”
But to realize that potential, Reid said Nevada needs to do two things: Take decisive action to create jobs and lay out an economic plan to transform the state’s economy for the long term.
“For too long, Nevada has kicked the can down the road, relying on the same old industries to get us through, content with that boom and bust, and unable to achieve our potential,” he said.
Reid would be the first Democratic governor in Nevada since Bob Miller left office in January 1999. His position as the Democratic front-runner was cemented when an anticipated rival, Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, decided in September against a run for the job.
Reid has already put out a 32-page plan for Nevada called “The Virtual Crossroads.” In it, Reid talks about the need to push for more alternative energy development to create jobs and end reliance on the use of imported coal to power Nevada’s economy.
He also wants to diversify Nevada’s economy to bring in high-paying jobs to reduce the state’s heavy dependence on its tourism economy.
Reid also proposes in his plan to fund education to an “amount objectively required to provide an quality education to every student in the state” and to do so before making any other state budget decisions.
Reid did not elaborate on how he would pay for his version of “Education First,” a concept pushed by Gibbons and put into the state constitution by voters back in 2006.
In an interview before his formal comments, Reid said the key is to first fix the economy for the long term. Economic growth and better paying jobs will do a lot to help create the revenue the state needs to function properly, he said.
“I think we’re never going to solve our fiscal problems until we solve our economic problems,” he said. “That’s why I’m talking about it first.”
Reid said there are three solutions to the budget problems: grow the economy, make government more efficient and raise taxes. Talking about taxes is not an option right now, he said. Speculating on what will happen in the 2011 legislative session is premature, Reid said.
“I want to do right now what I can do to create jobs and diversify our economy, so our discussion in 2011 is much easier,” Reid said.
Reid cited a Western Governors Association report that found if Nevada had developed 2,000 megawatts of solar energy in the last two years it would have created $13 billion in economic activity and generated $1.3 billion in state revenues.
He criticized the Gibbons administration for not moving more quickly in alternative energy development. It wasn’t until this week, more than four moths after the end of the 2009 legislative session, that Gibbons finally appointed an energy commissioner to work in this important area, Reid said.
In his report, Reid also said he would take three immediate steps as governor:
– Boost access to capital for small business and start-ups;
– Focus capital spending on projects that will create immediate jobs;
– Order a comprehensive review to cut unneeded government spending.
The Republican Governors Association welcomed Reid to the race, saying it would help Republicans defeat both him and Harry Reid, who will also be on the ballot in 2010 as he seeks another term in the U.S. Senate. Polls show the senior Reid not doing well against a slew of potential Republican challengers.
“Senator Reid has complete control of the Democratic Party in Nevada, so we’d like to thank him for clearing the field for his son to be the Democratic nominee,” said RGA communications director Mike Schrimpf. “Harry Reid doesn’t do many favors for Republicans, but we could not have asked for a better present than having two Reids on the ballot instead of just one.”
Gibbons said Tuesday he had no comment on Reid’s formal entry into the race.
For his part, Reid said he does not believe his father’s race will have an effect on the governor’s race.
“People want to talk to me about unemployment, education and health care, nobody asks me to show them my family tree,” he said. “People will compare me to my opponent. It is not going to be a determining factor.”
Reid said he has a strong connection to Northern Nevada. He attended one year of grade school in Carson City. All three of his brothers lived in Northern Nevada at some point in time.
“I feel like I have a connection to the north,” he said.
Reid was elected to the Clark County Commission in 2002 to serve in Commission District G. He was re-elected on November 7, 2006, to another four-year term. In January 2005, Reid was appointed by his colleagues as commission chairman. He was re-elected by his colleagues on January 2, 2007, and is again serving as chairman.
Reid was born in Virginia while his father was attending law school. He has lived in Nevada since he was six months old.