Governor: Sandoval moving to Carson City | NevadaAppeal.com

Governor: Sandoval moving to Carson City

SANDRA CHEREB
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS – Republican Brian Sandoval defeated Democrat Rory Reid in Nevada’s general election Tuesday to become the first Hispanic governor in state history.

A former federal judge, Sandoval, 47, turned back Reid, the son of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, after beating incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons in the GOP primary.

Sandoval earlier made history when he became the first Hispanic to win statewide office in Nevada when he was elected attorney general in 2002. Last year he left a lifetime appointment as a federal judge to challenge Gibbons, who lost the June primary after a tumultuous term marred by a bitter divorce and allegations of infidelities.

A former assemblyman and Gaming Commission chairman, Sandoval inherits a state budget crisis at a time when Nevada leads the nation in unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies and faces a shortfall some economists have projected at $3 billion – about half the existing budget.

The governor’s race also included five minor party or independent candidates.

Reid, 48, the current chairman of the powerful Clark County Commission, cruised to victory in the primary. But despite raising $6.3 million – about $2 million more than Sandoval – and releasing numerous “vision” papers on education, the budget and the economy, his campaign never gained traction and he trailed consistently in polls.

In unofficial partial returns, Sandoval led Reid by a 10 percent margin.

John and Helena Lukac of Las Vegas were among the hundreds who attended Sandoval’s victory party at the Red Rock hotel-casino, in the upscale Summerlin section of the city.

“We had a chance to meet him, go with him, during the dedication of the fallen soldiers at Red Rock Canyon,” John Lukac said. “We saw how honest he was. We are one of the families who lost a son in the Iraqi War, and we appreciate his effort.”

“When he looked straight into our eyes, we saw him as an honest, straightforward guy who we can really trust,” Helena Lukac said. “He will be a governor of the people.”

Reid shied from his last name and his famous father, who faced his own difficult election campaign. Rory Reid dropped his last name from his literature and father and son took pains not to appear together on the campaign trail.

During the campaign, both Sandoval and Reid said they would not support tax increases, and both accused the other of having secret ambitions to do just that.

During four debates Sandoval took a hard-line conservative fiscal stance. He said he will veto any bill that contains a tax increase and promised to present a budget that reflects 2007 revenues – about $5.8 billion.

Sandoval said Nevada’s population has decreased over the past three years, and agency caseloads with the exception of Medicaid have declined or remained flat.

He’s proposed continuing state worker furloughs and salary cuts and pursuing privatization and consolidation to further cut costs.

“We will fund agencies based on caseloads, population and demand, not the prior year’s personnel costs and desired increases,” he said.

Reid argued the Republican would shift tax burdens to counties and local governments.

Both men supported giving local school districts more control over spending priorities and parents more choice on where their children attend school. Sandoval advocates a voucher system that would allow parents to apply state money toward private school tuition. Reid opposed vouchers, arguing it would take money from needy schools and subsidize tuition costs that only wealthy families could afford.

Other state constitutional races on Tuesday’s ballot:

– Incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki was challenged by Democrat Jessica Sferrazza, a Reno city councilwoman.

– Democratic Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto defeated Republican Travis Barrick and Independent American Party candidate Joel F. Hansen.

– Secretary of State Ross Miller, a Democrat, beat Republican Rob Lauer and IAP candidate John Wagner.

– Democratic state Treasurer Kate Marshall faced Republican Steven Martin.

– Controller Kim Wallin, a Democrat, faced Republican Barry Herr and IAP candidate Warren Markowitz.