Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers on Monday called off his upstart candidacy for the U.S. Senate.
He couldn’t be blamed for feeling just a little like Rodney Dangerfield. Beers was a long shot on his best day more than a year ago when he declared a sincere interest in taking a swing at the seat then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had held for more than three decades. It was one of those announcements that raised eyebrows with political insiders, but those who know Beers realized he wasn’t making an empty gesture.
The conservative Republican saw Reid as a Democratic Party dragon that needed slaying. Unlike others, who kept their true feelings about the senator to themselves, Beers wasn’t shy about expressing his sentiments and interest in the job that was essentially Gov. Brian Sandoval’s for the taking.
His odds didn’t improve a great deal in the months that followed.
Reid commented more than once that he didn’t expect Sandoval to challenge him and wasn’t concerned about his eventual opponent, in any event. After Reid was severely injured in a home exercising accident in January and later announced he wouldn’t run, Beers seemed to have caught a break. When Sandoval confirmed recently that he planned to remain in Carson City and finish his second term following a wildly successful legislative session, Beers might have imagined his senatorial stock would rise.
But it didn’t. Beers got no respect at all.
State Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson was receiving encouragement and had fundraised like a rising star, and CD 3 Rep. Joe Heck was said to be giving the idea more thought with each passing day, and is now a favorite to challenge former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto in what promises to be a competitive race.
For his part, Beers spent six years in the Nevada Assembly and has been a fiscally tight-fisted member of the city council. He was an outspoken critic of the plan to use tax dollars to help construct a $200 million soccer stadium complex downtown. The plan failed, and Beers was cheered.
But it didn’t provide much of a bounce for his long-odds senate run.
One reason is pretty simple. Beers is a true conservative, and there aren’t often enough votes on the right end of the political spectrum to carry a candidate for statewide office in Nevada. Sandoval talked like a conservative early in his re-election bid, but he’s clearly governing like a centrist — and is one of the most popular elected officials in state history.
Beers is a certified public accountant who appears to see government as more of an accounting question than a policy question.
Frankly, the fact he reads closely the proposals that come before him at City Hall is refreshing. It helped save the city from making a mediocre deal on an ill-considered soccer stadium.
Beers announced his change of plans Monday on his website. Part of his exit statement shows where his heart was at — even if he hadn’t nailed down the broad-based support it would have taken to mount a competitive campaign.
“My goal was to stop Harry Reid from another term and I have accomplished that goal,” he wrote, taking more credit than he was due. “The Nevada Republican Party will have no problem recruiting from our deep bench to find someone to run for the open seat and work to reign in Washington. Meanwhile, I will be most effective serving the people of Las Vegas.”
Even if no one else in the Republican Party will, his fellow conservatives should give their Rodney Dangerfield credit for stepping up.
Bob Beers may yet find a congressional seat he’s capable of winning. But if the rest of his career is defined by his role as a thorny fiscal grump at City Hall, well, what’s so wrong with that?
John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Email him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. Find him on Twitter: @jlnevadasmith