15 governor filings ties state record

Filing to run for Nevada governor has become increasingly popular over the past two decades. This year, candidates almost set a record as 16 people, including incumbent Brian Sandoval, plunked down $300 each to put their name on the list.

That is one more than the old mark of 15 contenders. But Las Vegas Democrat Fernardo Lopes withdrew his candidacy Monday, leaving this year’s filings in a four-way tie with other recent election cycles.

Most candidates get weeded out in the Republican and Democratic primaries. This year, five Republicans and eight Democrats are running.

Minor party candidates representing, this year, the Independent American and Green parties continue to the general election in November.

As Lopes undoubtedly learned when he pulled his name off the list, that $300 filing fee is nonrefundable.

According to the most recent Political History of Nevada publication and the Secretary of State’s website, the number of filed gubernatorial candidates has been in double digits for every election in the past two-dozen years.

There also were 15 candidates in 1990, 1998 and 2002. Fourteen filed for the office of governor in 1994, 12 in 2006 and 13 in 2010.

In Nevada’s early days, especially before the state began having direct primary elections in 1910, there were most often just two candidates in the running — usually one nominated by each major party.

The first time more than two candidates showed up on the general election ballot was 1894. That election cycle drew not only a Republican and a Democrat but a Silver Democrat and a People’s Party candidate.

From that point until 1934, there were generally just two seeking the state’s top office. But in 1934, seven filed.

The first time there was a double-digit number of candidates was in 1950, when five Democrats and five Republicans filed. But that was still an anomaly. It didn’t happen again until 1974, when Mike O’Callaghan faced 10 opponents.

Despite that, he won a second term with 114,114 votes — nearly four times as many as his nearest competitor.

That is the biggest victory margin in state history by percentage. In terms of the victory margin in votes cast, however, both Richard Bryan’s re-election in 1986 and Kenny Guinn’s second term in 2002 were by larger margins — 122,187 and 233,066 votes, respectively.

Given that no big-name Democrat is in this year’s race, Sandoval may have a chance to break one or both of those marks.

It was 1978 when a new and, to candidates in general, annoying placeholder showed up on the ballot for certain races, including governor. “None of the Above” allows voters to express their displeasure with all the candidates in a given field.

While candidates don’t like it, some wags have suggested that, if None wins, that office should be held vacant for four years.


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