Sandoval nominated for federal court seat | NevadaAppeal.com

Sandoval nominated for federal court seat

BRENDAN RILEY

Attorney General Brian Sandoval, a top Nevada Republican viewed as a possible future candidate for governor or Congress, has been nominated for a U.S. District Court judgeship in Reno.

Sandoval, 41, the first Hispanic elected to a statewide constitutional office in Nevada, will accept the post if he’s appointed by President Bush and endorsed by the U.S. Senate, spokesman Tom Sargent said Monday.

The nomination of Sandoval, chairman of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign in Nevada, was made by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., with the support of U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., Ensign spokesman Jack Finn said.

If approved, Sandoval would take over the U.S. District Court seat now held by Howard McKibben. McKibben, 64, who has been a federal district court judge since 1984, is going on senior status in April.

Sandoval was in a state Pardons Board meeting and not immediately available for comment on the nomination.

On a political fast track, Sandoval was first elected to the state Assembly in 1994 and re-elected in 1996. That was followed by appointments to the governing board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and to the Nevada Gaming Commission, where he served as chairman.

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Sandoval left the Gaming Commission, to which he was appointed in 1998, to run for state attorney general in 2002. In that race, he was helped by endorsements from Gov. Kenny Guinn and most state police organizations and by backing from major gambling corporations.

As attorney general, he has headed Nevada’s court efforts to block a national nuclear waste dump from being located at Yucca Mountain, northwest of Las Vegas. He also oversaw the investigation that has led to pending impeachment proceedings against Republican state Controller Kathy Augustine. Sandoval, representing Guinn, also opposed a federal court challenge of a state Assembly vote that sent a record $833 million tax plan to the Senate on a simple majority vote rather than a constitutionally required two-thirds vote.

Representing Secretary of State Dean Heller, Sandoval lost a legal battle over dual service by full-time government employees in Nevada’s part-time Legislature. Sandoval petitioned for a ban on such service, but the court ruled against him in July.

Fans of Sandoval filed a certificate of candidacy to get him into a race against Reid earlier this year, but Sandoval said he wasn’t interested. At the time he said he had no interest in seeking a Senate seat, adding that as attorney general until 2006, “I have a contract with the citizens of Nevada.”

Sandoval graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno and from The Ohio State University College of Law. He lives in Reno with his wife, Kathleen, and their three children.