Dan Schwartz is pinning his long-shot bid for governor on hopes that Republican primary voters will pay more attention to his persona than his policies.
In announcing his candidacy Tuesday, Nevada’s treasurer described himself as a successful businessman and political outsider who’s feared by the establishment.
“I am not a politician,” Schwartz said in his announcement speech. “Sure, I’m elected, but I’ve started and managed good businesses that create jobs. I value real results and get them.
“There is nothing Nevada’s political insiders fear more than losing control over the state’s elected officials.”
Schwartz didn’t lead the crowd in chants of “drain the swamp,” but there are obvious thematic parallels with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign: Businessman. Outsider. A lobbyist’s worst nightmare.
Trump used that narrative to mask his more liberal policy positions. To be successful in the primary, Schwartz is going to have to pull off the same feat. Attorney General Adam Laxalt has all but announced he’s running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, too. Laxalt’s a conservative.
Schwartz has some conservative bona fides. He championed Education Savings Accounts and fought crony capitalism, like the failed Faraday Future giveaways. But he has supported raising taxes and he refused to rule out supporting future tax hikes.
“I have proposed (higher) taxes, you’re absolutely correct,” Schwartz said at a news conference following his announcement. “I still think the airport tax (on passengers) is a great idea. I just can’t do it. The real question is: One, who pays the taxes, and where does the money go?”
Schwartz said the problems with Gov. Brian Sandoval’s $1.5 billion tax hike, passed in 2015, were the types of taxes and the amount.
“A prudent governor or prudent CEO would have said, “Let’s do $500 or $600 million (in tax hikes),’” Schwartz said.
Unlike most Republicans, Schwartz also supports legalized abortion.
“No government funds should be used to fund abortion,” Schwartz said. “This is a personal choice. You want it. You pay for it. … What you as a parent or a parent-to-be have to decide is whether a child you bring in this world will be loved and cared for.”
Arguing it’s OK to kill an unborn child because he or she will face difficulties growing up is going to justifiably infuriate social conservatives.
Like Trump, Schwartz is interested in infrastructure.
“I would love to see a high-speed train between Las Vegas and Reno,” Schwartz said. “Right now, it’s a pipe dream, but it does work financially.”
Good luck telling Republican primary voters that you want to replicate the high-speed rail boondoggle pushed by California Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown. Especially when Schwartz puts the cost at $25 billion.
“You and I won’t agree on all the issues, but I think we can agree on the type of conservative we put in office,” Schwartz said. “For starters, it means being honest. When you say something, mean it.”
Unlike Trump, who consistently talks out of both sides of his mouth, Schwartz seems honest about his positions.
Nevada Republicans will have to determine whether that makes him a more or less attractive candidate.