Danny Tarkanian

Former Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate Seat in Nevada

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Why He Matters

A former collegiate basketball player and coach, Tarkanian tried to enter a whole new game: Politics. He wanted to the the Republican to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).

Tarkanian, a small-business owner and co-director of a basketball academy in Las Vegas, set his sights on the four-time senator while the 2008-2009 recession continued to hammer jobs in the Silver State. Early in 2010, Reid was polling well under 50 percent against Tarkanian, as well as other GOP contenders Sue Lowden and Sharron Angle.

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At a Glance

  • Career History: Manages a Real-Estate business and created the Tarkanian Basketball Academy (2002 to 2009); Assistant Basketball Coach at Fresno St. University
  • Birthday: Dec. 18, 1961
  • Hometown: Redlands, Calif.
  • Alma Mater: University of Nevada Las Vegas; University of San Diego, J.D.
  • Spouse: Amy
  • Web site

Path to Power

Born in Redlands, Calif., Tarkanian grew up in a family that focused on competition and education. The education came from his mother, who taught children with special needs and opened the first private school for the deaf in California. The competition came from his father, Jerry, who coached the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) basketball team, and won the 1990 national championship.

Basketball Star and Coach

Danny Tarkanian took both qualities to UNLV, playing point guard for his father while also becoming the school's first Rhodes Scholar candidate.

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The Issues

In August 2009, Tarkanian threw his name into the race to unseat Reid. The Senate majority leader continued to face a fierce backlash over the state of the economy, which greatly hurt job prospects in Nevada. Plus, Reid was the face of President Obama's first-year agenda, including health-care reform efforts stalled in Congress. In early polling, Tarkanian lead Reid by 7 points in a hypothetical match-up.

But his competition in the June 8 GOP primary soon pulled ahead. With an endorsement from the influential Tea Pary Express, Assemblywoman Sharron Angle beat Tarkanian and Sue Lowden.

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