LAS VEGAS - The son of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid formally launched a bid for Nevada governor on Wednesday, saying the state needs to diversify its gambling-heavy economy and stop postponing difficult decisions.
"In Nevada, we've just been kicking the can down the road for years," Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
"We've relied on the gaming industry to just create prosperity for all of us and we've had a serious case of short-term thinking," he said. "There are things we can do as a state to create jobs so our people can go back to work now, and then there are others that we can undertake to make sure that we have a broad-based economy in the future."
Reid said the key to his plans are helping small businesses start up, survive and expand.
Reid toured local morning television and radio shows in Las Vegas on Wednesday morning, and planned an evening speech at his old elementary school about four miles west of the Las Vegas Strip.
He also released a 30-page plan for Nevada titled "The Virtual Crossroads," outlining his vision.
Reid told the AP that he is focused on the economy because it's the most pressing issue state lawmakers and regular citizens must confront.
"We're never going to solve our fiscal problems unless we solve our economic problems," he said.
Nevada lawmakers face the possibility of a $2.4 billion budget shortage during the next legislative session in 2011.
Reid said he doesn't think his famous father - who will also appear on the 2010 ballot as he pursues re-election to the U.S. Senate - will have a big effect on his gubernatorial run.
"Nobody has asked me who my father is and I don't think my family tree matters to people, ultimately," the 47-year-old Reid said.
"Right now a lot of people don't know me, and all they know about me is who my father is, and I just don't think as this campaign progresses that it will be a factor," he said. "People are going to vote for the person that they think has a plan to lead our state into the future, and I think I'll be that person."
Reid said his father's influence won't sway voters and won't shape how he raises money and runs his campaign.
"This is my campaign. I've done all the fundraising and the thinking and the development of our plan for our economic future," he said. "I'm just going to control the things that I can control and be the best candidate I can be."
The Republican Governors Association quickly capitalized on the family connection Wednesday, thanking Reid's father for "clearing the field for his son to be the Democratic nominee."
The association's spokesman, Mike Schrimpf, said having two Reids on the November ballot would be a gift to Republicans.
"Harry Reid running the United States Senate and his son running the State of Nevada would send most Nevadans running for cover," Schrimpf said. "The only thing more shocking than the lack of political strategy involved in this decision is the utter arrogance it took to make."
Reid currently has no Democratic primary opponents. Nevada Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley took herself out of contention in September, while Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is considering a campaign but has said he would likely run as an independent if he gets in the race.
The Republican side of the race features incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons and challengers including former U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval and former North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon.
Former state Sen. Joe Heck was in the Republican primary race, but backed out last week and said he planned to instead challenge U.S. Rep. Dina Titus for Nevada's 3rd Congressional District.
A poll released this week by the Las Vegas Review-Journal shows Reid would be behind Goodman and Sandoval in a three-man race. Goodman and Sandoval were about even, according to the telephone poll of 500 registered Nevada voters conducted last week.
The poll, conducted by the Washington, D.C.-firm Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., had margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.