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Nevada Republicans are cannibals! Politically speaking, of course

September 16, 2009 |  4:14 pm
Let the Republican-on-Republican carnage begin.

In recent weeks, Nevada’s embattled GOP -- plagued with an indicted lieutenant governor, a philandering senator and a governor who has been the grand marshal in the party’s parade of scandals -- returned to fighting form.

Nevada Republican Brian Sandoval

Only, its candidates are sparring with each other.

Brian Sandoval announced his candidacy for governor Tuesday to the Reno Gazette-Journal, an hour after his resignation from the federal bench took effect.

He is so beloved by the GOP that everyone wants to take credit for luring him into the race -- even besieged Sen. John Ensign (who said he did nothing “legally wrong” by having an extramarital affair with a campaign aide, and then his wealthy parents paid the mistress's family $96,000).

Of course, Sandoval said Ensign didn’t recruit him, though the men spoke twice about the gubernatorial campaign, the Reno paper reported.

It was actually two top Republican operatives, Pete Ernaut and Greg Ferraro, who first approached Sandoval, underscoring the perceived political radioactivity of Gov. Jim Gibbons (who’s enmeshed in a bitter divorce with his wife, Dawn, who has accused him of at least two extramarital affairs).

Still, if Sandoval survives the primary, he’s a heavy favorite against the likely Democratic nominee, Rory Reid.

On the 2010 senatorial side, a number of polls – including a Rasmussen survey released this week -- have shown Rory’s dad, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, losing to wax figures at Madame Tussauds.

But national Republicans have thus far avoided declaring a favorite in the GOP primary, though Danny Tarkanian -- son of basketball coach Jerry -- made the Washington rounds this week.

"Republicans have a primary that'll be decided next June," Harry Reid told CQ Politics. "At last count, there are 10 Republicans involved in that primary.

"I think the people of Nevada know me very well," the senator declared after the polls were out. "They know what I've done over the years, and we'll deal with the Republicans when that's necessary. Right now, that's not necessary."

In other GOP news, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki (who's slated to go on trial next month on charges that he misappropriated state funds) still plans to to run for reelection in 2010.

Other than that, things are pretty quiet in Nevada GOP politics.

-- Ashley Powers

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Photo: Associated Press (Brian Sandoval)
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