LAS VEGAS — The man who represents the single biggest threat to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s career says he’s too busy to decide whether to run against the Nevada Democrat.
Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) said in an interview Sunday that he has not set a timeline for deciding whether to challenge Reid in 2016. Sandoval, who won reelection to a second term by a 46-point margin last month, said he’s focused instead on the upcoming legislative session.
“I’m focused on my job. I really am. No, there’s too much at stake this session to be distracted,” Sandoval said when asked whether he had a timeline in place. “I’ve got the inaugural coming up, and even before that the budget.”
Reid will be one of the most vulnerable — if not the most vulnerable — Democrats up for reelection in 2016. Republicans hoping to hold their 54-seat Senate majority see defeating Reid as a critical cushion. Sandoval said he had not spoken with incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, though he did allow that he had spoken with Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), a longtime political ally.
“We’ve had conversations, yes,” Sandoval said.
For the first time in his tenure, he will have a Republican legislature to deal with in next year’s legislative session. Republicans ousted Democratic majorities in both chambers in November, partly on Sandoval’s coattails. He helped raise and spend more than $2 million on key state Senate races in Clark County, which handed his party control.
But it’s not likely to be smooth sailing: The Republican wave in Nevada was so big that it swept into office a number of conservatives who weren’t expected to win. Conservatives in the Assembly elected their own speaker, defeating the incumbent minority leader, an establishment Republican and Sandoval ally.
Sandoval said he’s spending his time introducing himself to and hearing from new legislators.
“There are some legislators I need to meet. I haven’t even met some of these” members, he said.