Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley says she would rather be an advocate in Las Vegas than an executive in Carson City, so she won't challenge Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid in the Democratic primary for governor.
Buckley announced Friday the decision not to enter the race, despite polling in August that showed Democratic voters preferred her over Reid 43 to 22 percent.
"I felt that I would be very competitive and that I could win," Buckley said.
Although likely voters preferred Buckley, Reid had an early fundraising and organizational advantage and is the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada politician since 1968 with influence from Jackpot to Laughlin.
Buckley, 48, says a tough race against Rory Reid followed by a general election campaign would result in too much time away from her family, including her 10-year-old son Aiden.
"I imagined not seeing him for the next 14 months," she said. "I would be forced to campaign every night and coming home exhausted and falling asleep, it was very unappealing."
Instead, Buckley will focus on finishing her final Assembly term which could end with a special session later this year and her job as executive director for Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.
It's a private, nonprofit organization that provides legal assistance to abused children, victims of domestic violence and people who need help with everything from foreclosures to wage garnishment issues.
The announcement could be good or bad for Reid, depending on the point of view.
It is good for Reid if the lack of a strong primary opponent allows him to sock away funds for the general campaign.
"It effectively means Rory Reid can save all his money for the general now," said David Damore, a political science professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "Maybe the Democrats are finally learning that divisive primaries are not a good."
Buckley's departure could hurt Reid, because it denies him a chance to limber up for a general election campaign.
Reid's career so far has taken place in Clark County, which means voters in the rest of the state are likely to know him best as the son of Harry Reid.
"For some candidates, though, primaries can be beneficial -- increasing name ID or giving them some practice on a statewide stage," said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor of the Cook Political Report. "In Rory Reid's case, an argument could be made that a competitive primary could provide the opportunity to separate himself from his father."
Rory Reid had little to say on the matter.
"I respect and admire Speaker Buckley. I have known her and considered her a friend for more than 20 years. I am eager to work with her as we build a new vision for Nevada," he said in a written statement.
Buckley ruled out the possibility of taking a job as a federal judge, an issue entwined with the tangential role of Sen. Reid in his son's gubernatorial aspirations.
In 2005, Sen. Reid supported the appointment of then-Republican attorney general Brian Sandoval to the position of federal judge in Reno.
In addition to the elder Reid's stated belief that Sandoval was the best-qualified person for the job, the judge position had the byproduct of taking Sandoval out of politics, a career that could have led him to challenge for Reid's U.S. Senate seat.
Last month, Sandoval resigned from the federal judge job and, although he hasn't spoken publicly about the move, it is widely believed he's planning to run for governor.
Could Buckley be in line for the Sandoval vacancy, which would clear the playing field of a potential Democratic rival to the younger Reid?
Not according to Buckley.
"I'm not interested in pursuing a federal judgeship. I enjoy being an advocate. I don't really want to sit on the bench and judge others. I want to advocate for people who need it," she said.
Still, voters will probably see her name a future ballot.
In 2012 Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., could decide to make a bid for the seat of embattled Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. If so, that would mean a potential opening for Berkley's current seat in a heavily Democratic Las Vegas district. Buckley has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for attorney general and, obviously, governor.
"My political life is probably not over," she said.
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at email@example.com or 702-477-3861.