Nevada Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, once considered a likely gubernatorial contender, took herself out of contention Friday, saying the timing and prospect of a lengthy campaign would be too rigorous for her family.
"In the weeks since the end of the legislative session, I have had the time and opportunity to have serious, in-depth discussions with my family about my potential candidacy," Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said in a written statement.
"After taking stock of the impact a 14-month campaign would have on my family, particularly my 10-year-old son, I have made the decision that now is not the right time for me to run."
Her exit leaves Rory Reid, Clark County Commission chairman and son of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, as the lone Democratic front-runner. Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman also has been mentioned as a possible candidate, though he has said he's considering running as an independent.
Buckley later said she would not rule herself out forever.
"Maybe in the future when my son is a little older," she said in a telephone interview. "Politics are important, but nothing's more important than family."
Buckley was elected to the Assembly in 1994. She is barred from seeking re-election by term limits, as are 16 other longtime legislators. Her term expires Nov. 3, 2010, the day after elections.
She is executive director of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada and said she would remain active in social causes.
"And I'll be continuing my advocacy for our state," she said. "I'll still be around, I just won't be running for governor."
Eric Herzik, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, said Buckley's withdrawal took him by surprise.
"Basically, the front-runner in the race dropped out," Herzik said, adding he believed Buckley could have easily defeated Reid in a Democratic primary.
"I think the Democrats are probably not real happy about this either," added Herzik, who is a Republican. "It avoids a potentially negative primary, but now they are kind of stuck with Rory Reid."
Harry Reid is up for re-election next year. As Senate majority leader, his seat is a key target of Republicans.
"The Harry-haters will immediately hate Rory," Herzik said.
Earlier this week, Rory Reid told The Associated Press he didn't believe his "genealogy" would be a factor in the election.
A newspaper poll conducted last month for the Las Vegas Review-Journal suggested incumbent Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons would be an underdog to any Democratic contender for the state's top office if the election were held today. Other polls have shown Gibbons' voter approval rating in the low teens.
Brian Sandoval, a former state assemblyman and attorney general who was the first Hispanic to win statewide office in Nevada, is stepping down from a lifetime appointment to the federal bench on Sept. 15 and is expected to enter the GOP gubernatorial race.
Other Republicans who have announced intentions to run are former state Sen. Joe Heck and former North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon. Reno Mayor Bob Cashell is considering joining the race.