Lt. Gov. Hunt seeks GOP gubernatorial nomination | NevadaAppeal.com

Lt. Gov. Hunt seeks GOP gubernatorial nomination

SCOTT SONNER
Associated Press Writer

Campaigning on the theme “Commitment Not Politics,” Nevada Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt said Thursday she’s the only Republican running for governor who has won a statewide race and has the necessary business experience.

“I’m really not a politician who happened to get into business. I’m a businesswoman who happened to get into politics,” she said in formally announcing her candidacy.

A former Clark County commissioner, Hunt has served the past seven years as lieutenant governor, emphasizing drawing international tourists to Nevada and setting up the first U.S. state tourism office in China.

“For seven years I have proven I can contribute to creating a vibrant, dynamic economy,” Hunt said in a speech to about 100 supporters and students at the Washoe County School District’s Regional Technical Institute.

“For the past seven years, I’ve been a heartbeat away from the governor’s chair,” she said.

Hunt, 66, got her start as a lounge singer working for Bill Harrah at Harrah’s casino in Reno and in Las Vegas. She bought property in Las Vegas at the age of 19 and later bought shopping centers and restaurants, still owning and running one in the Las Vegas area.

Hunt joins U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons, considered the front-runner, and state Sen. Bob Beers in seeking the GOP nomination to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn.

State Senate Majority Leader Dina Titus and Las Vegas businessman Jim Gibson are the only Democrats who have announced their candidacy.

Ideologically speaking, Hunt said it is “difficult for me to define myself,” but said her beliefs are more akin to those of Guinn than more conservative Gibbons and Beers.

“I’m an independent business woman,” she told reporters after her speech.

“I’m fiscally very conservative. I’m not a socialist. I’m an Abe Lincoln Republican. I believe in rights and responsibilities, limited government and truly helping people help themselves,” she said.

Hunt acknowledged she won’t be able to keep up with Gibbons campaign warchest. As of October, Gibbons had more than $300,000 cash on hand in his congressional campaign, which he can convert to the governor’s race.

Hunt expects to have raised between $120,000 and $130,000 when campaign finance reports come out early next week.

“The lobbyists, political insiders and special interests have not been knocking at my door. But they will learn I’m an independent decision-maker who will do what is best for the state and in the long run, everyone will benefit, even them,” she said.

Hunt said she enjoys a large support base as a result of her past two campaigns for lieutenant governor and said she’s the only candidate in either party who has won a statewide election.

“I believe future polls will show I can win again and become your next governor,” she said.