Governor says he likes being governor, in totally unsurprising revelation

Gov. Brian Sandoval said today he’s taking his opponents seriously, not withstanding the fact that there’s not a single high-profile challenger among them.

In an interview with the Review-Journal editorial board and news staffers, Sandoval said anyone who puts his name on a ballot is entitled to respect. But pressed to name his foes, he only correctly identified one — Democrat Chris Hyepock, whom he’d previously met.

In fact, he faces nine Democrats (Hyepock, Charles Chang, Fred Conquest, Stephen Frye, Bob Goodman, Fernardo Lopes, Allen Rheinhart, John Rutledge and Abdul Shabazz); four fellow Republicans (Eddie Hamilton, Gary Marinch, Bill Tarbell and Thomas Tighe); an Independent American Party candidate (David VanDerBeek) and even a Nevada Green Party representative (David Gibson).

The governor also declined to comment on whether he’d be selected by a Republican presidential candidate as a vice-presidential running mate in 2016.

“I love this job. It is a real gift and a blessing,” he said.

But Sandoval also said that, while he’d be campaigning seriously, the lack of an intense fight at the top of the ticket allows him to focus on his job more than he would have otherwise this year. “It definitely gives me more time to govern,” he said.

On other issues, Sandoval:

• Declined to say whether the state needs more money for education. He noted that the state added about $500 million to the education budget during the last legislative session, including funds for English Language Learners and class-size reduction in lower grades. He also said the state’s 1960s-era funding formula needs to be re-evaluated and noted that higher enrollments will trigger additional money for schools. But pressed as to whether the state is spending enough now, Sandoval demurred. (The governor has been a high-profile critic of The Education Initiative, a 2 percent business margin tax aimed at boosting K-12 school budgets.) “We don’t have an unlimited amount of money, so we have to make sure we’re spending what we have” properly, Sandoval said.

• Said he’d keep pushing online gambling compacts with other states, including New Jersey, but only for poker and not other games. “My preference is that we stay poker only,” he said. When asked why, he raised the possibility of wide-open web gambling hurting brick-and-mortar casinos in Las Vegas. (It should be noted, however, that at least one of the companies that own those casinos — Caesars Entertainment — is nevertheless a huge proponent of online gambling.)

• Promised to bring back proposals such as his Read By 3 initiative and school choice programs, including vouchers. Sandoval defended his record on education, and said he’d sought out national positions (including the vice chairmanship of the Education and Workforce Committee of the National Governor’s Association) hat deal with the issue. He said the Read By 3 initiative might be more politically palatable now that there are funds for class-size reduction in kindergarten, all-day kindergarten in at-risk schools and increased English language money.