So far, I’m going with Sandoval for guv

Recently I joked that Gov. Jim Gibbons probably calls his GOP friends to ask that they run against him in the Republican primary to improve the odds he might win the nomination with a plurality.

That came after someone told me if enough Republicans ran it might help rather than hurt his chances. The observation reminded me of the crowded 1986 gubernatorial race in Nebraska for an open seat there. In part because 15 candidates ran for the major party nominations, two women emerged to face each other in the general election.

Neither woman was a weak candidate, but Nebraska was hardly viewed as a state that might produce the first all-female gubernatorial general election face-off. Such is the nature, though, of multi-candidate primaries. By the way, the Republican was elected.

My quip about Gibbons phoning GOP friends—which came on the heels of Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley announcing she won’t seek the Democrats’ gubernatorial nomination—followed my earlier opinion that Gibbons is toast no matter who runs.

Since then, Reno’s Brian Sandoval announced he will challenge Gibbons after resigning a seat on the U.S. District Court bench. Earlier announced GOP hopefuls are former state senator Joe Heck, and former North Las Vegas mayor Michael Montalban.

Buckley’s decision to forego a bid, which came despite speculation she wanted the governor’s role, was attributed to family considerations.

Usually, I’m a cynic upon hearing such news, but this time I’m not even skeptical. By chance earlier this year, I bumped into the speaker at the Nevada State Museum, and she introduced me to her pre-teen son. Any observer could see that her love for and pride in her son outstrips any public role possible right now.

But back to the GOP, Gibbons, Sandoval, etc. I find it incomprehensible after decades of watching politics that a federal judge would jettison a lifetime appointment unless he had strong feelings that he would wrest the nomination from the governor.

All the GOP candidates must court the same anti-tax conservatives Gibbons always woos. So Sandoval, seen by some as a more moderate GOP candidate, despite current positive polling may face problems if more centrist Republicans jump in.

Yet it now appears Sandoval is the main challenger and a tough one at that, as Gibbons himself noted. The mid-40s Hispanic attorney has been a legislator, gaming commission chair, state attorney general and federal judge.

He seems poised to revive a shell-shocked GOP in Nevada. Some of the hard right, however, see Sandoval as soft on taxes despite his resistance to raising them. He’s being pushed to sign an anti-tax pledge, but he says it would tie his hands.

Meanwhile, the Democrat with the best nomination shot after Buckley’s exit is Rory Reid, Clark County commissioner and son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Reid duo totes some baggage, which includes dynasty talk their forces play down.

I loathe dynasties. Name recognition is fame, not proof of brains or governing ability. Tossing darts at telephone directory pages makes as much sense in choosing leaders. Neither Reid impresses me; I say write off the Reids.

As things stand now, unless independent or additional party candidates intrigue me, I’ll support Sandoval. The Republican primary election fracas is more interesting and important to conservatives than the general election.

A GOP candidate with experience, brains, character and appeal to disparate elements has emerged.

Thoughtful conservatives must thwart the anti-government wing of the Republican party, if necessary, turning the page on the past by nominating and helping elect Brian Sandoval—unless a better candidate comes along. Lots of luck.