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Las Vegas City Councilman Beers gets early start against Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid isn’t up for re-election until 2016, but he has drawn his first challenger: It’s Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers.

Beers, a former member of the state Assembly and Senate who threw a scare into Jim Gibbons in the 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary, this week sent out a largely biographical mail piece that is due to drop today. In it he confirms his intention to challenge Reid, who at 74 is considered one of the most powerful politicians in the country while not always being popular back in his home state.

Contacted briefly Thursday, Beers confirmed his intention to run for the office.

Beers said he was compelled to run after being approached by a group of conservative supporters, including car dealer Jim Marsh. The group raised the funds to float the mailer.

“Too many people think that Washington needs an intervention,” Beers said. “I told these people I wasn’t interested, and they raised the money anyway.”

In a recent interview, Reid made clear he intends to run for re-election and showed his pugnacious side when asked about a possible challenge from Gov. Brian Sandoval.

“I’ve run against them all,” Reid said.

Beers is no stranger to statewide races. He ran for governor against then-Congressman Gibbons in 2006 and placed second despite a substantial financial disadvantage.

He served in the state Senate during the 2005 and 2007 sessions. He was defeated for re-election in 2008. In 2012, Beers was elected to fill the City Council seat vacated by current District Attorney Steve Wolfson.

Known as a budget hawk on the council, Beers recently went public with his criticism of the exclusive downtown stadium development agreement handed to the Cordish Companies, a view that put him at odds with Mayor Carolyn Goodman.

Beers, 54, moved to Las Vegas at age 11, graduated in 1977 from Clark High and in 1987 received a bachelor of science degree in business administration from UNLV. He is a certified public accountant.

Married for more than 30 years, Beers and wife Sarah have two grown children.

Some might consider Beers’ early announcement very premature, but anyone who challenges the Democratic powerhouse will need time to build high name recognition and a multimillion-dollar campaign war chest.

The announcement no doubt also complicates matters for Sandoval, who is up for re-election this year but has long been rumored to be interested in challenging Reid.

OUT OF THE RUNNING: Backed into a corner and facing removal from office in addition to a pending federal fraud trial, suspended Family Court Judge Steven Jones finally called off his delusional run for re-election.

He even called himself a “humbled man” this week in a hearing before the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline, but only after causing years of damage to the credibility of the court. One item from a long list of shenanigans: Witnesses say Jones used his judge’s chambers to participate in a multimillion-dollar Mexican land fraud scheme associated with his former brother-in-law.

I suspect “humbled” is another word for “caught.”

Time will tell whether Jones also betrayed his oath from the bench. Something tells me more than one attorney in Southern Nevada is feeling increased anxiety these days as the FBI’s case takes shape.

Jones was knowledgeable of the law and possessed all the tools to be an excellent judge, but apparently being a respected jurist making a six-figure salary wasn’t enough for him. Maybe some day he will explain why.

SCHOOL NUMBERS: Looks like that university statistics class really paid off for new Clark County School Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky. Improved student tracking at the school district has helped give the community a clearer picture of the true high school graduation rate. It’s a respectable 72 percent, up from 59 percent in 2011.

There’s plenty of room for improvement, of course, but the more precise figure has to come as a relief to a lot of hardworking teachers. It also should put criticism of the school district in better perspective.

Skorkowsky is scheduled to speak at the Feb. 11 Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance business luncheon at the Four Seasons.

ON THE BOULEVARD: Just as I was getting comfortable with longer hair, it’s all coming off March 1 at McMullan’s Irish Pub for the annual St. Baldrick’s childhood cancer research fundraiser. To participate, join my daughter Amelia’s team, or start one of your own, go to stbaldricks.org. … Don’t forget to sign up for the Feb. 15 Healing Hears Run/Walk to benefit the Rape Crisis Center, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in Southern Nevada. To participate, go to rcclv.org. … Longtime local Herm Williams, a truly gentle and charitable man, left the community a less kind place when he died recently at age 90.

Have an item for Bard of the Boulevard? Email comments and contributions to jsmith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295.

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