The gubernatorial campaign for Republican Brian Sandoval on Thursday lobbed a shot at Democrat Rory Reid for being absent from his job as chairman of the Clark County Commission.
But it was a shot observers from both major political parties say is unlikely to do any damage on its own and could be a setup for a stronger attack later.
An e-mail from Sandoval's campaign attacked Reid for being absent from 140 votes from Jan. 5, 2009, to Aug. 3.
The Sandoval blast was headlined "Skipping his day job," and said the missed votes showed Reid was more interested in campaigning for governor than performing his commission duties.
"Clark County taxpayers probably aren't going to be too happy to realize they are essentially paying him to run for Governor," Sandoval spokeswoman Mary-Sarah Kinner wrote in the e-mail. "Clearly, Rory Reid believes it's more important to campaign for a new job than do his current job."
It was rare shot from Sandoval, who leads Reid by double digits in statewide opinion polls. Sandoval has been accused by the Democrat of dodging debates and avoiding substantive discussions so he can sit on his lead.
However, a closer look at the votes in question -- taken over a span of 19 months and covering meetings with more than 3,400 agenda items in total -- showed Reid missed only one meeting.
Other votes Reid missed were cast at meetings he attended. Some commission meetings on the list lasted more than six hours and Reid might have briefly stepped out of the room.
In only one of the 140 votes in question could Reid's vote have made a difference: an Oct. 20, 2009, vote to construct a wastewater treatment facility that passed 3-2. Reid and Commissioner Tom Collins were absent.
"I don't think it is a good attack, nobody gives a crap," said Ronni Council, a campaign consultant to Democratic candidates who isn't involved in the gubernatorial campaign. "This is a really weak argument, it just seems like a distraction tool."
Ryan Erwin, a consultant to Republican candidates who isn't involved in the gubernatorial campaign, said it's unlikely voters will care that Reid missed 140 votes -- the County Commission considers thousands of items every year.
Although Sandoval has held a strong, double-digit lead throughout the campaign, Reid has a fundraising advantage and has used it to build a strong campaign organization.
Erwin said Sandoval has a strong campaign team as well and it is possible the absentee allegation is an attempt to set up a stronger argument down the road.
"You have to assume this is a tee-up of some sort," Erwin said. "Team Sandoval is generally bright, I can't imagine this is just a random act of waking up one day and deciding to throw a little bomb, a very little one."
Council said it shows the Sandoval campaign wants to change the conversation from the subjects Reid has been emphasizing. The most recent alleges Sandoval is dodging debate and discussions of the issues. Sandoval's campaign denies the charge and points to dozens of interviews Sandoval has given since the June 8 primary and his agreement to participate in at least three debates.
Reid spokesman Mike Trask responded by reviving criticism of Sandoval related to the Republican's rapid rise through Nevada politics, from assemblyman to attorney general, gaming commission chairman, federal judge and, now, candidate for governor. "It is absolutely ridiculous for a guy who has quit his last three jobs and who spent the past eight months hiding from Nevada voters to be worried about anybody else's schedule."
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3861.