Sarah Palin's father backs Tarkanian's Senate run

Sarah Palin's father endorsed GOP U.S. Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian in his first radio ad as the primaries kick into high gear.

In Tarkanian's first radio ad, Chuck Heath reaches out to Nevadans who voted for the 2008 GOP presidential ticket of John McCain and running mate Palin and urges them to vote for Tarkanian as the true conservative in the primary.

"You supported my daughter Sarah Palin, now please join me in supporting another strong conservative: Danny Tarkanian," Heath says in the 60-second spot.

The ad is clearly aimed at both conservatives in the GOP and the Tea Party movement who have adopted Palin as one of their own.

Palin is the headline speaker at a March 27 rally in Searchlight -- the hometown of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. -- to kick off a cross-country Tea Party Express tour.

Palin's father says Tarkanian is against abortion, for gun rights and, "He will fight to cut taxes, slash spending, and end budget-busting pork barrel politics."

Heath, who like Palin is from Alaska, notes he already has campaigned for Tarkanian in Nevada.

"I can tell you firsthand, he is the guy conservatives want fighting for them against the business-as-usual crowd in D.C.," Heath says in a copy of the ad provided to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The statewide radio ad is the first of four Tarkanian plans to run in rotation until the primary election on June 8, according to his campaign manager, Jamie Fisfis.

The other three will begin airing next week and feature a biographical spot, a spot on issues and one with the mother of a boy Tarkanian has mentored.

Tarkanian, a former University of Nevada, Las Vegas basketball star, has a nonprofit basketball academy for youth.

The single mother identifies herself as Carmen and talks about how Tarkanian has helped her son.

"Danny coached Johnny at the basketball academy, but he's taught Johnny life skills, too," she says in the ad. "And that's made a real difference in Johnny's life."

She says Tarkanian tells her son hard work and education are important and "you must stand for what you believe." She says her son is getting good grades and "college is in his future."

Tarkanian is the last of the strongest GOP contenders to start ads. He plans to launch TV ads soon, his campaign said.

"We are up and running full speed to the finish," Fisfis said.

Fisfis refused to reveal how much the campaign is spending on radio and TV ads. They can be expensive, running six figures a week depending on the markets.

Casino executive and former state Sen. Sue Lowden is the front-runner in the crowded GOP primary with 14 candidates vying to oppose Reid in November. Lowden went out first with radio and TV ads several weeks ago and has spent more than $250,000.

Lowden was followed by New York investment banker John Chachas who launched radio ads last week. The multi-millionaire grew up in Ely and recently returned to Nevada to run, partly on his own money. His ads also focus on his personal story and issues.

Former Reno Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, who has the most conservative voting record on taxes, also launched her first ad last week. She urged voters to meet her in Searchlight for the Tea Party effort to defeat Reid and she slammed Wall Street bailouts, too.

Angle is behind Lowden and Tarkanian in polls but all three could beat Reid if the election were held today, the polls show.

Contact reporter Laura Myers at lmyers or 702-387-2919.