News - February 28, 2017 - by Ray Hagar

By Ray Hagar
Nevada Newsmakers

The main campaign consultant of Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt said Tuesday that a candidate for governor of Nevada in 2018 would need to raise about $6 million in campaign contributions.

Robert Uithoven, Laxalt's consultant, added that amount could be small potatoes compared with the money that will be raised on behalf of the candidates by independent Political Action Committees.

"Going back to (Gov. Jim) Gibbons in '06 and what (Gov. Kenny) Guinn did prior to that and what Sandoval has done, you can win a race with $6 million in this state, a statewide race, maybe a little less," Uithoven said after a taping of Nevada Newsmakers at the State Capitol in Carson City.

"I think he (Laxalt) has the ability to raise more than that," he added.

"But even more consequential in today's politics is how much money outside groups spend," Uithoven said. "So it doesn't really matter what (potential Democratic candidate) Steve Sisolak will raise and spends or what any Republican candidate may raise and spend."

Both Laxalt and Sisolak are considered potential candidates for governor, according to various reports. Sisolak is the chairman of the Clark County Commission. He reported a campaign war chest of $3.8 million in January while Laxalt reported $1.5 million. Laxalt is officially "exploring" a run for governor while Sisolak has made no public announcement.

Current Gov. Brian Sandoval can't run in 2018 because of term limits.

"Outside groups are going to play very heavily here," Uithoven said of the 2018 gubernatorial election. "We are still a swing state. This will be the first (election) cycle without Harry Reid."

When asked about the discrepancy in the size of Laxalt's and Sisolak's campaign war chests, Uithoven suggested Sisolak may need more cash because of a possible Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Laxalt can raise money in a hurry, harvesting $1.1 million in the final eight weeks of 2016. He was also raising money last year in mid-cycle, Uithoven said.

Laxalt could also face a primary, since state Treasurer Dan Schwartz said he is considering a run for governor.

"You could possibly see a primary on the Democratic side and if not, I think Adam Laxalt has run statewide," Uithoven said. "He is better known statewide. Name ID is a precious commodity in politics. Adam Laxalt has not only demonstrated through his work ethic but by the position he holds as the state's top law enforcement officer that he has been a man of action. He gotten a lot done for the state of Nevada, protecting our communities. He is very well known in this state."

Laxalt's "name ID" is stronger than Sisolak's statewide, perhaps even in Sisolak's home of Clark County, Uithoven said.

"Steve Sisolak, I don't know if he's very well-known, even in Clark County," Uithoven said. "I'm not sure his name ID in Clark County is higher than Adam Laxalt's in Clark County."

The Laxalt name is considered like royalty in Nevada, some have suggested. Adam's grandfather, Paul Laxalt, is a former Nevada governor and U.S. Senator, a close friend to former President Ronald Reagan.

Yet a recent "Nevada Independent" poll showed 51 percent of those polled had no opinion on Adam Laxalt. Twenty-three percent of those polled had a positive opinion of Laxalt and 26 percent had a negative one.

The stakes are high in 2018, Uithoven said. The next governor will be a major influence how how Nevada politics are played going into the 2020 decade.

"Clearly, this next governor's election will determine who the governor will be when (congressional and legislative districts) lines are drawn the next time, when redistricting is done. People pay attention to that. People invest in that."