Chancellor Rogers won’t run, but will be involved in governor race | NevadaAppeal.com

Chancellor Rogers won’t run, but will be involved in governor race

Nevada’s University Chancellor Jim Rogers said Wednesday he won’t run for governor next year.

But he served notice he’ll be watching those who do, in order to back candidates he sees as good for education and oppose those who aren’t.

“I have no intention of running for governor,” said Rogers, a multimillionaire who owns Sunbelt Communications.

There had been speculation Rogers would run, and he confirmed a number of political leaders had asked him to consider it. He said not only does he doubt he would win, his primary interest is education, not the governor’s office.

“I decided it was incumbent on me as the chancellor to ensure I protected the higher education system and the K-through-12 system as well as I could,” he said.

Rogers said he has sent letters asking questions about the needs of both higher education and kindergarten through 12th grade in Nevada to those who are planning to run and plans to make his views on who would be best – and worst – well known.

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He said he intends to do so primarily through a political action committee he registered with the Secretary of State’s Office last week. Rogers said he and his wife, Beverly, will put about $2 million into the committee to try to improve support for education in Nevada.

Of the three responses he has received so far, he said Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, was the most complete.

“It shows great thought was given to it,” he said, But he added she has an advantage because, as a political science professor at UNLV, she is familiar with higher-education issues.

The response from Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, he said, was “rather sketchy.”

He said Perkins told him he intended to supplement his answers after doing some research.

Rogers, who has been critical of Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., before, said he worries about the prospect of Gibbons as governor. In an earlier interview, he described Gibbons as “very narrow-minded” and “simplistic.”

He did say his staff has spoken with Gibbons’ staff, and that the congressman has promised to respond to his questions.

And Rogers said he would make all the responses public.

He said the university system he now heads is on the verge of major steps forward in quality, and he wants to make that happen.

“We have the ability to grow and push those schools up,” he said.

He said part of the problem is convincing the public in Nevada to back improvements in education.

“We’ve got to persuade the public at large – especially in Las Vegas – that education is valuable separate and apart from what you need to make a living.

“Las Vegas is a world-class economy and a third-class culture,” he said.

If Gibbons wins the governor’s office, and the regents believe he is bad for the university system’s relationship with the state, Rogers said, he will resign. But he said he has promised to stay at least three years as chancellor and intends to keep that promise.

He was named chancellor in May.

As for other candidates, he said he knows and respects them, but will reserve judgment as to who would be best for education in Nevada.

“I know Dina and think very highly of her,” he said. “I know (Henderson Mayor) Jim Gibson very well and think very highly of him. (Lieutenant Gov. ) Lorraine Hunt I went to high school with and think very highly of. (Republican State Sen.) Bob Beers is a superstar in many ways.”

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.