By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
Nevada’s 2nd U.S. House District Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, laid out a plausible scenario on how he could win the 2022 Nevada Republican gubernatorial primary on Nevada Newsmakers Tuesday.
Amodei, the state’s CD-2 representative since 2011, also told host Sam Shad that incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak would be a formidable Democratic opponent for any Republican and would probably have backing of Nevada’s powerful gaming industry.
“I just think the history, when push comes to shove … The Strip doesn’t go against the Culinary and D Taylor politically,” Amodei said, referring to the longtime leader of Las Vegas’ most powerful workers’ union. “So I would be surprised if The Strip does anything other than what historically they have done, which is support the incumbent.”
“It is going to be a tough race. A sitting, incumbent Democratic governor. And that (Nevada Democratic) party has a history. They’ve handed Donald Trump a 100,000-vote loss in Clark County — twice,” Amodei said, referring to the 2016 and 2020 Nevada presidential elections.
Amodei would not commit to a gubernatorial run in 2022 but said he would have a good chance at victory in a Republican primary if multiple opponents from Clark County enter the race. Already, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, both Republicans, have officially said they will run.
Also, former U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, also a Republican from Carson City, is preparing for a gubernatorial run in 2022, Politico reported Wednesday
“I guess I shouldn’t say this because I don’t really mean it — but — the more the merrier,” Amodei said about a GOP primary. “With a few folks down there in Clark County vying for the home field advantage, as a guy who has won six (elections) in a row, in basically the rest of the state, that works well for me.”
Amodei’s congressional district includes much of Northern Nevada, including all cities on or near the Interstate-80 corridor of Reno, Sparks, Fernley, Fallon, Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain and Elko.
Amodei predicted the 2022 GOP gubernatorial primary could be similar to the 2010 GOP primary for U.S. Senate. Republicans in 2010 thought Democrat Harry Reid was vulnerable, like Sisolak may appear vulnerable to the GOP now, Amodei said.
“The last time a bunch of people in Nevada thought that a Democratic incumbent was pretty vulnerable was Harry Reid,” Amodei said. “So you had a lot of Republicans jumpin’ in, couldn’t wait to take on Harry Reid.”
Sensing weakness with Reid, the 2010 Republican Senate primary attracted nine candidates, mostly from Clark County. The lineup included current Douglas County Commissioner Danny Tarkanian (then living in Clark County), former state Sen. Sue Lowden, businessman John Chachas and former Las Vegas Assemblyman Chad Christensen.
“And guess what? You had a couple of people in Clark County, Sue Lowden, Tarkanian. And Sharron Angle ended up being the nominee!” Amodei said, referring to the former Reno Assemblywoman who lost the 2010 general election to Reid.
“And you say, ‘How could that have happened?’ Well, first of all, she’s from the North, which has a strong Republican presence. And I like the way that matches up now with CD-2. Then you get multiple people from Clark County and it kind of splits the votes. And then you get your share, too.”
The scenario gives Amodei confidence.
“We’ve taken a strong look at it and quite frankly, it is good news for us,” Amodei said
Issues surrounding Sisolak that anger Republicans — Covid policies and business shutdowns — may not be factors when the 2022 primary election arrives, Amodei said.
“Let’s just talk about what is clearly visible on the table. By the end of this year, everyone who wants a (vaccine) shot would have gotten one,” Amodei said. “Whether you agree with what the governor has done, or not, during his first term, the pandemic and the economy and stuff like that, the economy will be heading in the right direction.”
Various government entities across Nevada should be doing well then, too, Amodei added. Federal relief payments ensure that.
“Is is also pretty much a fact that rather than losing money, the state, the cities and counties, with this last (federal relief) bill, got their potential shortfalls covered and more,” Amodei said. “So I don’t want to be provocative, but there is a very good likelihood that Nevada’s political subdivisions made money on federal aid to cover their tax-collection shortfalls.”
Even members of the Legislature “will say, hey, the state is awash in money right now,” Amodei added.
Sisolak will be a tough out for any Republican who wins the GOP gubernatorial primary in ’22, Amodei said.
“Make no mistake about the gubernatorial race, if all you’ve got is, ‘Hey, we think he did a bad job and shame on you,’ by the time you vote next year, a lot of that stuff will be in the rear-view mirror.
The GOP candidates also need new campaign blood from outside the state or new thinking from the usual consultants who run Nevada’s Republican campaigns, Amodei said.
“So you may ask, when you talk about consultants, so who are the Republicans going to use? It’s like, well, I just hope that either someone has an epiphany about the need to change or you bring somebody else in,” he said.
Amodei is torn between running for governor or staying in Congress. He has been Nevada’s 2nd U.S. House District since winning a special election in 2011. He has also won five general-election races. If the Republicans take the majority on the U.S. House in 2022 — like some pundits predict — Amodei said he may have a greater influence on Capitol Hill.
“It is not how it works for me, it’s how it works for Nevada,” he said.
Referring to potential personal promotions in the U.S. House with a GOP majority, Amodei said: “Appropriations Committee, subcommittee chairman, potential. Hey, that’s pretty good for Nevada.”
If he ran for governor and left CD-2 to a new Republican representative, Nevada may suffer, Amodei said.
“Assuming that a Republican would succeed me, is this a good time to have someone who is basically starting out, with no seniority, when you are the only Republican seat in the federal delegation?” he said.
Amodei mentioned Nevada’s 1st U.S. House District Rep. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, who thought about running for the U.S. Senate in 2018, stayed in the U.S. House and saw her influence grown within the majority party.
“I mean, Dina Titus thought about it from the other side of the aisle,” Amodei said. “And quite frankly, you know what? I think she made the right decision. Seniority in the Democratic Caucus for Nevada is a good thing in the House.”
Amodei is in no hurry to make a decision on his future plans.
“Everybody comes up to me and asks, ‘What are you going to do?’ And here’s the deal, nobody ever won or lost the election in May or June, a year before the election,” he said.