CARSON CITY — Creating interest in the state controller’s race is as difficult as attracting crowds to a tiddlywinks tournament, but a qualified auditor is necessary to ensure the state is spending money appropriately.
Assemblyman Andrew Martin, D-Las Vegas, and Republican Barry Herr have announced they will run to succeed current controller Kim Wallin, who is term-limited from running again in November 2014.
“People don’t view the controller as a partisan office,” Martin said. “Their No. 1 concern is electing a person who knows what they are doing. Most people don’t know the difference between the treasurer and controller. The treasurer collects the money, and the controller writes the checks. The job is to protect the peoples’ money.”
Martin, a certified public account, has run his own accounting firm for 20 years and spent about 10 years auditing records in the White House Travel Office during a scandal in the 1990s.
A one-term legislator, Martin won election overwhelmingly in November 2011. He was seated in the Legislature though a district judge ruled he could not serve because he lived outside the district.
Legislators, under the state constitution, determine the qualifications of their members. Republicans did not challenge his seating.
Martin is a past member of the Economic Forum, the group of five business leaders who determine how much state revenue the state has to spend.
He said that he can talk the language of bond attorneys in New York and that knowledge is important in securing the best deals for Nevada.
Democrats have a 97,000 registered voter advantage, but Martin said he is taking nothing for granted. He figures he will have to raise as much as $750,000 for his campaign, depending on whether there is a primary.
His opponent’s name should ring a bell: Herr drew about 43 percent of the vote when he lost to Wallin in 2010.
Herr did reasonably well in that race, but he raised only $16,000. He raised even less when he lost a Clark County commission race in 2012.
He is the current president of the Nevada Society of Certified Public Accountants and has operated an accounting business for 5 years.
“The race should not be about income, but, being better known now, I can raise more money,” Herr said.
A former has more extensive background in private business than Martin.
Herr echoed his opponent’s sentiments that the controller job should not be political and the public should elect the person best qualified to ensure state funds are protected.
Herr said he would make sure voters know of Martin’s problems with his Assembly district residency. He said Martin’s running for a seat in a district where he did not officially live is “indicative of the decisions he makes.”
Martin said there is “no residency issue” and noted that the Assembly voted 42-0 last February to certify his legislative victory.
Herr has run for office several times and “never been able to earn the confidence of the voters,” Martin said. “On the political scene, Herr is a proven loser.”
Las Vegas City Councilman Ricki Barlow had considered running but decided against making a bid.
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at email@example.com or 775-687-3901.