Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2003 | 8:57 a.m.
CARSON CITY -- Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn heaped lavish praise on Democrat Harry Reid Tuesday as the senator stood nearby, but stopped short of endorsing Reid for re-election next year.
During a news conference about starting a fire safety plan to identify "hot spots" in Nevada, Guinn said Reid, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, "is always looking after the interests of Nevada."
Asked afterward whether he would support Reid next year, Guinn said, "Nah. We've been good friends. He understands. I'm a Republican and I'm working in behalf of the Republican candidate for president.
"When it comes to working for the state of Nevada, we're doing exactly what we ought to be doing. He is doing a very good job along with the other members of the congressional delegation.
"But in his case, being on the Appropriations Committee is very important for Nevada to maintain the dollars we get back from the federal government we send there. He works very hard" for Nevada.
Asked whether it would be wise to send a freshman senator back to Washington who would not be on the Appropriations Committee, Guinn didn't directly answer the question. Instead, he just kept complimenting Reid.
"He's important to the state of Nevada. I will say that for him," Guinn said. "Certainly he has worked very well with my office. As a Republican governor, he's always been there. Certainly there is going to be an election, and I think he is doing quite well."
The news conference was to herald a $1.2 million federal grant that Reid helped secure for a study to identify where the greatest fire dangers are in Nevada. After the study is completed, it will give the local communities the basis to apply for federal money to take steps to reduce the fire threats.
The study is expected to be finished by the end of next year. Resource Concepts of Carson City was awarded the contract to do the work.
Guinn said the state must be prepared when fire strikes. In a two-week period in 1999, more than 1.3 million acres were burned in Nevada, mainly in the northern part of the state, destroying animal habitat, polluting water sources and hurting tourism.
This study, the governor said, will be the "best defensive plan we can have."
Elwood Miller, executive coordinator of the Nevada Fire Safe Council, said some of the "hot spots" would include Mount Charleston, the east side of the Sierra Nevada and Mount Wilson in the eastern part of the state.