“Republicans for Ross” has a ring to it.
And it sounds like this: ka-ching!
On Wednesday in Reno, the widows of two GOP icons in Nevada, the late Gov. Kenny Guinn and the late state Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, are holding a fundraiser for Secretary of State Ross Miller, a Democrat running for attorney general. It will be held at Dale Raggio’s home and Dema Guinn is the co-host. Contribution levels were $100, $250, $500 and $1,000.
The cross-over GOP support for Miller isn’t that surprising since Guinn backed his father, Bob Miller, when he ran for re-election in 1994, heading “Republicans for Miller.” Guinn then succeeded Miller as governor after Miller was termed out.
Miller, the longest serving governor of Nevada, moved up from the lieutenant governor’s job in 1989 when then-Gov. Dick Bryan, a Democrat, won a U.S. Senate seat. Miller was then elected to the post in 1990 and re-elected in 1994, serving for 10 years until 1999. During his tenure, Miller was known for his bi-partisan attitude and ties.
Raggio, too, was known for working across the aisle when he was Senate majority and minority leader.
The fundraiser serves as a GOP calling card for Ross Miller, who hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps one day by serving as the Silver State’s governor. Miller’s parents are expected to attend Wednesday’s GOP fundraiser.
Ross Miller called the event “extremely important” for his campaign, adding that he was close to the two late Republicans.
“I just had such a strong relationship with Governor Guinn and Senator Raggio, who provided me with a lot of guidance early in my elected career,” Ross Miller said in a brief interview Tuesday in Las Vegas.
Asked if this was the launch for a “Republicans for Ross” group, Miller said people have been asking him that.
“We’ll take a look at it,” Miller said. “And see if it’s of value” to the campaign.
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., used a similar tactic to win re-election in 2010 as “Republicans for Reid,” demonstrated the Senate majority leader’s support among Republicans over his GOP challenger, tea party-backed Sharron Angle.
In this year’s attorney general race, however, Miller’s Republican opponent, Adam Laxalt, has the top-tier GOP support in Nevada, including from Gov. Brian Sandoval, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and U.S. Reps., Joe Heck and Mark Amodei.
Laxalt, who was raised in Washington, D.C., moved to Las Vegas a couple of years ago to practice law. He’s the grandson of former Nevada governor and U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt, another GOP icon who was close to former President Ronald Reagan. In his first election bid, the younger Laxalt is benefiting from those ties both in Nevada and in the nation’s capital.
Paul Laxalt was Nevada governor in the late 1960s and early 1970s when Reagan was governor of California. Laxalt served in the U.S. Senate from 1974 until 1987, overlapping Reagan’s two presidential terms from 1981 until 1989.
The younger Laxalt also has received financial backing from big name Republicans, ranging from Donald Rumsfeld, the former Secretary of Defense, to Ed Rollins, who ran President Ronald Reagan’s campaign, to Frank Fahrenkopf, the former head of the Republican National Committee as well as the American Gaming Association’s first chief executive.
John Findlay, Laxalt’s campaign manager, said the Guinn-Raggio fund-raiser shows only isolated GOP support for Miller.
“Just because Ross Miller cherry picks away at the Republicans for Reid list doesn’t mean he has ‘establishment’ Republican support,” Findlay said Tuesday. “Republican voters recruited Laxalt to run for attorney general, and they are well aware that upon entering this race, he gained the immediate support from Governor Brian Sandoval, former Governor Bob List, Senator Dean Heller, Congressman Joe Heck and Congressman Mark Amodei, along with numerous state and local Republican leaders throughout Nevada.”
A GOP insider noted that Raggio campaigned across Nevada with Laxalt when the two both ran for public office in the 1970s and 1980s, but never campaigned alongside Bob Miller. As well, Joe Brown, who was law partners with Raggio for some 50 years, is backing Laxalt in this year’s attorney general’s race.
Ross Miller is considered the favorite to win the Nov. 4 general election, mostly because of his strong Democratic Party support and his ability to raise money, getting a big head start over Laxalt, who entered the race this year.
Miller has raised more than $1.3 million so far compared to Laxalt’s $600,000. Laxalt managed to out raise Miller during the first several months of this year, however: about $543,500 compared to some $277,300 for Miller.
Contact Laura Myers at email@example.com or 702-387-2919. Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj.