The flip side is, of course, there's something in his record for nearly everyone to hate.
Just Thursday morning, anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist slammed Sandoval's signing a tax increase into the state budget last year.
National Review columnist John Fund said Sandoval would be "horrific" for conservatives, calling the governor Obama's "Trojan Horse."
On the left, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence blasted out a statement based on the governor's gun rights record: "Sandoval unfit for Supreme Court." And plenty of Democrats surely balked at the idea that Obama would waste a Supreme Court vacancy on a Republican.
It's possible Obama wasn't ever going to give Sandoval the job, either. You could argue -- and The Fix's Chris Cilllizza did -- that it made more sense that Obama was floating Sandoval's name to try to call Senate Republicans' bluff that they wouldn't consider any of his nominees, or to reinforce their intransigence.
Senate Republicans didn't bite.
Here's what Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), the Senate's No. 2, told Politico's Burgess Everett:
Cornyn says doesn't make a difference if Sandoval is the nominee. Position stays the same— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) February 24, 2016
In essence, Sandoval (whether he wanted to or not) was taking one for the team -- the Democratic team -- without any promise in return. No wonder he told the White House on Thursday he didn't want to be considered for the possible nomination. But it's not like he wasn't interested; just a few days ago, he told the Morning Consult's Reid Wilson "it would be a privilege” to serve and calling the Supreme Court “the essence of justice in this country.” Apparently, though, his interest level wasn't enough to sustain him more than 24 hours into the public vetting process.
As with every potential new job, there are personal considerations as well. The charming, telegenic, hands-on Sandoval may not have been a good fit for being tucked away in a courtroom.
When Sandoval left a lifetime appointment on the federal bench as U.S. District Court judge in Reno after less than four years to run for governor, many in Nevada were surprised. But not some of his colleagues on the bench, who sensed he was itching to get back into political life.
"I always thought his heart was in the public arena," Judge Patrick Flanagan told the Reno Gazette Journal's Anjeanette Damon at the time.
"My thinking was he was just bored," on the bench, said University of Richmond Law professor Carl Tobias, who at the time was the founding faculty member of the law school at University of Nevada Las Vegas.
Putting himself through the D.C. wringer with just a slim chance he'd get a job he may not even like just didn't seem worth it to Sandoval, who is term limited in Nevada but still has a bright political future. The longer he was the only guy being publicly vetted, the more scrutiny there would be of his record. And given his positions on issues like abortion and the tax increase that Norquist flagged, it could have gone sideways in a hurry.
As Fix Editor Aaron Blake noted after Norquist's tweet:
Sandoval, 52, will finish his second term as governor in 2018, and from there it's anyone's guess what he does next. If a Republican wins the White House (or heck, maybe even a Democrat the way things are going for Sandoval), he's on the short list for a Cabinet position. He declined to run for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) open seat this November, but there's no reason he and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) couldn't conceivably try to trade jobs in 2018, when Heller faces reelection. For his part, Heller said in a statement he hopes the next president considers Sandoval for the Supreme Court the next time there's a vacancy.
Staying in this contentious nomination process any longer, no matter how good of a pick he might have been, probably would have hurt his chances for any of that. Sandoval got out to save himself, possibly just in time.