Wednesday, July 13, 2005 | 9:45 a.m.
CARSON CITY -- Trying to walk a middle road, Gov. Kenny Guinn says he will back the GOP nominee for governor next year but added he would support some candidates more than others.
Guinn told reporters Tuesday it was "important" to have a number of Republican candidates in the race to succeed him to allow the voters to hear their philosophies.
But the governor indicated he was less than enthusiastic about Rep. Jim Gibbons and Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, who opposed his proposed tax increase in the 2003 Legislature to handle the growing needs of Nevada.
He said those who opposed the tax increase never revealed where the government cuts would come from. Planned debates will give these candidates a chance to suggest where they would have trimmed government, rather than increasing taxes.
"The masses of voters realize you can't cut the state budget when we're the fastest growing state in the nation," Guinn said.
Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt has already decided to enter the race for governor. Reno Mayor Bob Cashell is thinking about it and so is university system Chancellor Jim Rogers. All are Republicans.
Guinn praised all three but added, "Whoever is elected will grow into a responsible person."
Two years ago, Gibbons spoke out against the Guinn tax increase. Beers was one of the so-called "Mean 15" in the Assembly that refused to back the tax package.
Guinn did praise Beers for his help this session on the $300 million tax rebate program and on rescuing the Millennium Scholarships.
The governor said he has not sought out anybody to run for governor but has advised each of those he met with to get into the race early if they decided to be a candidate. The governor said he has talked with anyone who has come to him and has told them "to go home and make sure that is what they want to do."
He has talked with Hunt, Cashell and Rogers.
He was "happy to see Beers get in" the race because it means more candidates.
On financing a run for governor, Guinn said a person who is listed in the polls at 5-10 percent, will probably have to spend $3 million to $4 million in the primary to win the nomination.
Beers, who so far has polled in the single digits, has forecast a "robust" primary election with a lot of debate on the issues. At his announcement for governor, Beers said the state spending is growing faster than the population.
When asked where he would cut government, Beers said in Medicaid and Temporary Assistance to the Needy (welfare). He said $100 million was spent in improved technology for these programs. Private industry spends this money but then is able to reduce its work force, he said.
He said the state Welfare Division got 120 new workers in 2003 in anticipation of an increase in the number of recipients. But the number went down. Still the division came to the Legislature in 2005 and said it needed all the workers even though the numbers of recipients are not expected to grow that fast.