Hypothetically speaking, Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval easily could beat U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a head-to-head Senate matchup in the 2016 election.
That’s according to an automatic telephone poll taken last week by Harper Polling, a GOP firm led by Brock McCleary.
The survey found Sandoval leading Reid with 53 percent support from likely Nevada voters compared to 43 percent for the senator. Sandoval does especially well among independent voters, 65 percent to 28 percent.
At this point, so far out from Reid’s re-election and with Sandoval expressing no public interest in running for the U.S. Senate, the poll is essentially a popularity contest. And Sandoval is popular, while Reid is not.
Reid got a favorable rating from 41 percent of those polled and unfavorable from 55 percent, with 4 percent not sure.
Sandoval had a favorable rating of 58 percent and an unfavorable score of 30 percent, with 12 percent not sure.
Reid, a divisive and powerful figure in Nevada and Washington as Senate majority leader, has long had a poor rating among voters. But that didn’t stop him from winning re-election in 2010 against tea party Republican Sharron Angle. Most public polls showed Reid losing, but his internal surveys showed him winning, which he did by nearly 6 percentage points.
Reaction to the poll was interesting.
Asked by reporters in Washington about the poll results, Reid quipped, “Just record the smile on my face.”
Reid told a Politico reporter he thought Sandoval would be even further ahead because he spends most his time in Nevada.
“I thought he would be up by more,” Reid said Friday afternoon as he left the Capitol, according to Politico. “He’s out there every day. I’m back here slogging it out. I was surprised it was so close. Really!”
U.S. Sen, Dean Heller, R-Nev., a close Sandoval friend, said he was encouraging the governor to consider running for the Senate.
“I know he won’t take a look at it until after the governor’s race is over,” Heller said. “He will have an important decision to make this winter.”
Heller said he was surprised by Sandoval’s margin over Reid.
“Personally, I would have seen Sandoval up 15 to 20 (percentage points),” Heller said, smiling. “If you told me 10, that’s the only surprise I get out of it.”
Sandoval’s campaign manager, Jeremy Hughes, echoed his boss’ sentiments on a potential Senate race.
“Governor Sandoval loves his job, and he is focused on working for the people of Nevada,” Hughes said.
Sandoval is expected to win re-election easily Nov. 4, facing a little-known Democrat, Bob Goodman, who wasn’t recruited by the Democratic Party, which failed to find a formidable opponent.
According to the Harper poll, Sandoval would win re-election with 56 percent support to 34 percent for Goodman. Another 10 percent said they weren’t sure.
Pollster McCleary said Nevada’s first Hispanic governor leads among Latino voters, 54-39, while Goodman “suffers from low name identification” with only 38 percent of voters having heard of him. In the June 10 Democratic primary, Goodman finished second behind “none of these candidates.”
As a result, Goodman received only 60 percent of the vote among Democrats whereas Sandoval garnered 84 percent of the Republican vote. In the June 10 GOP primary, Sandoval won with nearly 90 percent of the Republican vote.
The survey of 602 likely Nevada voters was taken July 26-29 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The party breakdown was 37 percent Republican, 43 percent Democrat and 20 percent nonpartisan, which roughly matches the statewide breakdown in Nevada.
— Laura Myers and Steve Tetreault
A DIFFERENT KIND OF CAMPAIGN AD
Ross Miller “is ready for the fight.”
That’s the main message of Miller’s unique movie-trailer-like ad that he debuted at the Las Vegas Film Festival last week as part of the Democrat’s campaign for Nevada attorney general against Republican Adam Laxalt.
The 46-second spot, which also is running online, is backed by a loud local rock band, Otherwise, playing “Soldiers.”
“This November, you will choose Nevada’s chief law enforcement officer,” the ad text says between dramatic camera shots of airplane flyovers of Nevada’s rugged, desert mountains.
Miller, the secretary of state and former Clark County prosecutor, also is pictured standing next to cops at a crime scene and in the courtroom, holding a handgun in an evidence baggie in one shot.
An athlete, Miller also is seen bare-chested with his fists up during a UFC mixed martial arts fight.
“The only candidate who has enforced Nevada law,” the ad reads, noting he’s been endorsed by cops and prosecutors.
Miller said he liked the idea of putting together a different sort of ad that might attract voters’ attention.
“I am always looking to try to find creative and fun ways to reach out to voters about my record and prosecutorial experience,” Miller said in a statement. “If I can do that while supporting the Nevada entrepreneurial spirit that created the film festival — even better.”
The video can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sG5mEfiq3
— Laura Myers
ROMNEY BACKS LAXALT
While Miller was touting what his campaign called a “blockbuster election,” Laxalt was picking up another big-name endorsement, this one from former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Romney, a popular figure among Nevada Republicans, won the GOP presidential caucuses here in 2008 and 2012, although he went on to lose the 2012 election to President Barack Obama.
Romney praised Laxalt’s military service, including in Iraq where the attorney handled detention and prosecution of terrorist suspects.
“Nevadans have a great opportunity to elect a bright, experienced and qualified lawyer as their next attorney general,” Romney said in a statement. “Adam Laxalt is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and served in a critically-important capacity as a JAG officer in Iraq, helping put away some of the world’s most dangerous people.
“He has been a leader in our military, and he will be a great leader for Nevada.”
Laxalt, in turn, praised Romney’s business experience and service as the former governor of Massachusetts.
“He has had enormous success in both the public and private sectors, and he is a wonderful family man,” Laxalt said. “I was proud to have supported Mitt Romney in his campaign for president, and I am humbled to have earned his support today.”
— Laura Myers
EPA MONEY NOW IN PIPELINE
When it comes to funding for new laboratory space in Las Vegas, the Environmental Protection Agency is finding a more welcoming ear on the Senate side of Capitol Hill.
The House is refusing to give the agency any money to relocate its environmental sciences division, whose on-campus leases at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas expire at the end of September 2015.
But a draft Senate bill made public Friday contains $7.85 million to begin designing new laboratory and office space in Las Vegas and also offers an encouraging word.
“Access to state of the art research facilities is critical to the success of the agency,” leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee said in a fiscal year 2015 spending bill for the Interior Department, the EPA and other environmental agencies.
The Senate is gone on summer recess so any further action on the bill will take place in September or later.
More than likely the bill or some version of it will be rolled into a wide-ranging “continuing resolution” to keep the government funded beyond Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.
In the meantime, the EPA is expected to present UNLV with a plan to consolidate space in five campus buildings it leases and seek a short-term extension while it works on a move.
The EPA has not said where it plans to relocate, but UNLV has been talking to the agency about moving to the largely vacant Harry Reid Research and Technology Park in the southwest valley.
Officials with UNLV, the EPA and the General Services Administration, the government’s leasing agency, have been keeping in touch with the office of Reid, whose name was put on the research park after he helped obtain the 122-acre parcel for the university in 2005.
Contact Laura Myers at email@example.com or 702-387-2919. Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj. Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760. Find him on Twitter: @STetreaultDC.