Former U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval announced Tuesday night that he will run for governor.
Sandoval, who said on Aug. 15 that he would leave the federal bench in 30 days, made the announcement to his hometown newspaper, the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Sandoval said he has become increasingly concerned about how the state is being run and "decided to act on my concern."
However, he declined to specifically criticize Gov. Jim Gibbons, whom he would face in a primary.
Sandoval, 46, of Reno, is considered to be a strong Republican candidate based in large part on his experience.
He was Nevada attorney general from 2002 to 2005 and was chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission at age 35.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., supported Sandoval's appointment as a federal judge in 2005, stating Sandoval was highly qualified for the job. The appointment also had the effect of clearing Sandoval from the political playing field as a potential challenger to Reid.
In a twist, the leading Democratic candidate for governor is Reid's son Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid.
Respondents to an August poll conducted for the Review-Journal by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. picked Sandoval as their top candidate in the Republican primary.
According to the poll, 33 percent of respondents chose Sandoval, 17 percent picked Gibbons, 3 percent chose former North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon and 1 percent favored former state Sen. Joe Heck.
University of Nevada, Reno political science professor Eric Herzik said Sandoval will need to cultivate hard- core conservative voters if he intends to maintain his popularity advantage in the Republican primary.
"If he ignores the grass- roots, Republican primary voter then he runs into trouble," Herzik said.
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3861.