Poll suggests Danny Tarkanian, Rory Reid owe ups, downs to daddies

The most recent Las Vegas Review-Journal poll proved one thing to me: Who’s your daddy makes a difference.

Looks like Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid’s daddy, unpopular Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is pulling his son’s numbers down in his bid for governor.

Meanwhile, Danny Tarkanian’s daddy, basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, is pulling his son’s numbers up in his bid for the U.S. Senate against Daddy Reid.

Danny Tarkanian also may be helped by recent news coverage about how he won a defamation lawsuit against state Sen. Mike Schneider, a victory that makes him look like the victim, especially since it’s so difficult to win a defamation case if you’re a public figure.

Being the son of Jerry Tarkanian, the winningest coach in Nevada basketball history who coached the Runnin’ Rebels from 1973 to 1992, is an obvious plus for Danny. It doesn’t hurt that mom is Las Vegas City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian.

Poll results show Danny Tarkanian as the first choice among Nevada Republicans to beat Harry Reid, even when Dean Heller is included. Before even one ad has aired for any GOP contender for Reid’s seat, Danny Tarkanian was the favorite of 29 percent of the 300 Republicans polled.

Rep. Dean Heller, who said before the poll was taken that he wouldn’t try to unseat Harry Reid, was in second place with 23 percent.

Nevada Republican Party Chairman Sue Lowden is in third place with 12 percent, and three other contenders show minuscule support from the GOP. (Other Republicans who might enter the race include U.S. Attorney Greg Brower and state Sen. Mark Amodei of Carson City.)

In a head-to-head match, Tarkanian beat Harry Reid by 11 points. Lowden was ahead of Reid by 5 percentage points, not a clear win in a poll with a 5 point margin of error.

The numbers may encourage Danny Tarkanian, but he’s no John Thune (the South Dakota congressman who took out Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, allowing Reid to move up). But with Harry Reid’s unpopularity, maybe Tarkanian doesn’t have to be as polished as Thune.

Bouncing back to the governor’s race, Rory Reid comes in last in a three-way race including himself and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley. In a poll of 300 Democratic voters, Goodman pulled 34 percent, Buckley 25 percent and Reid 13 percent.

When Goodman is excluded, the primary matchup shows Buckley leads with 43 percent, 35 percent are undecided and Rory Reid is last with only 22 percent.

Since Rory Reid isn’t known statewide and his dad is known everywhere, Rory cannot be dragging his dad’s numbers down. It has to be the other way around.

The poll also shows Gov. Jim Gibbons loses to every candidate put up against him: Brian Sandoval, Rory Reid, Buckley and Goodman.

Sandoval can’t even formally announce he’s running for governor until his resignation as a federal judge takes effect Sept. 15, so in the fundraising game, he’s at zero. Rory Reid has almost $3 million.

Several sources said they hadn’t heard Gibbons’ team was even asking for money from gaming.

Another source close to gaming, mining and homebuilders said the same thing. That supports my theory that, if he’s not raising money, Gibbons is not running for re-election but is waiting until after a special session to say so.

Gibbons’ campaign manager, Robert Olmer, said that wasn’t accurate.

"The governor has been making calls himself and several fundraisers are set up for the fall. We’re taking in money as we speak," Olmer said Friday.

Gibbons told the Las Vegas Sun he has a fundraising goal of $3 million by the end of the year, which seemed ridiculously high for a man my cat could beat in a poll.

The MGM Mirage was a big backer of Gibbons in 2006, but committed early to support Rory Reid exclusively and is sticking to that despite Sandoval’s candidacy. Las Vegas Sands, another original Gibbons backer, also hasn’t donated to the governor.

One thing is sure, Gibbons’ parentage isn’t playing any role in his polling numbers or his fundraising. He sinks on his own merits. His daddy isn’t a factor.

The sons of Harry Reid and Jerry Tarkanian can’t say that.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0275. She also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/morrison.

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