Win or lose, Gibbons will celebrate

Gov. Jim Gibbons on Thursday was optimistic he could beat long odds to win another term in office, but he also spoke as if he were at peace with the possibility of losing.

Gibbons was on the Northern Nevada political talk show Nevada Newsmakers and said he has no future plans to run for office and will celebrate even if he loses the Republican primary on Tuesday to frontrunner Brian Sandoval, a former federal judge. Former North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon is running a distant third in the Republican primary.

The Republican winner will face Democrat Rory Reid in the general election.

"I am going to celebrate if I don't win the primary," Gibbons said.

"Whether I win or don't win it is going to be a celebration," he added before discussing with hosts Sam Shad and Ray Hagar some of the less pleasant aspects of the role of governor.

"You have no private life at all," Gibbons said. You can't go down to the store to buy a couple of tomatoes without having to talk to five, six, seven people who want to tell you their unemployment check didn't arrive today, that their welfare check should have been more or how pleased they are that you kept the line on not raising taxes."

Gibbons continued: "You have got to like that or you shouldn't be in politics."

He added: "I love talking to people, it just takes up so much time to deal with it. You don't have enough hours in the day."

Gibbons also said he thinks he can succeed in his longshot bid for another term despite polls showing him nearly 20 points behind Sandoval among likely Republican primary voters.

He compared himself to Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who early in his political career in 1994 was 17 points behind incumbent Rep. Jim Bilbray for a seat in the House of Representatives. Bilbray became embroiled in a scandal at the tail end of the campaign and Ensign wound up winning by about 1,400 votes.

Gibbons said he expects a conservative Republican surge like the one in 1994 that pushed Ensign over the top to give him a primary victory Tuesday.

"They are going to make an effort to go out and vote in this election in numbers like we haven't seen since 1994," Gibbons said.

Gibbons also said budget numbers indicate by 2011 state revenue from taxes will be as much as $3.4 billion short of projected expenditures for the biennium. He plans to balance the budget without raising taxes, a feat that would require slashing state government spending by about half.

"Yes, government is going to look different. It is going to be smaller," Gibbons said.

When pressed to explain what he might cut, Gibbons said: "Do we really need a brands commission? Do we need the taxicab authority? Do we need the chiropractic board? What is it that we truly need in this state? Can we get away without some of these?"

Gibbons, 65, said he has no plans to retire but that he would like to move to Elko after leaving office.

"I don't look at this election as a termination of any part of my life," he said. "It is the door opening for a new era, a new opportunity."