Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009 | 9:39 a.m.
CARSON CITY – State Sen. Mark Amodei announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, calling incumbent Sen. Harry Reid a “$25 million man” who hasn’t done much to help Nevada emerge from its economic doldrums.
Amodei, who has served 14 years in the Legislature, said the state is in “serious, serious trouble” and having the majority leader in the Senate “really isn’t doing much for you.”
Amodei, 51, of Carson City, will seek the GOP nomination, entering a growing field. Danny Tarkanian has already announced. And state Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Lowden is expected to enter the race.
“You won’t see any negative campaign out of me in the primary,” he said. “It’s would be a dumb thing to do in the context of the registration realities of this state.”
Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 541,902 to 438,747 with 188,440 voters registered as non partisan, according to the latest figures from the Secretary of State’s Office.
Amodei said he was at the “cross roads” in his life. He had resigned as executive director of the Nevada Mining Association and is “termed out” from running for reelection to the Senate.
Durings three terms in the state Senate and one in the Assembly, he chaired the Judiciary Committee three times.
He said he was approached before the 2009 Legislature about running against Reid, a Democrat, but said Rep. Dean Heller, a Republican, gets first crack at Reid. “I’m a team player. He’s (Heller) the senior Republican office holder.”
After Heller declined to run, Amodei said he was approached by a number of people including Ed Allison, who was press secretary to Gov. Paul Laxalt.
Amodei calls Reid the $25 million man because of the campaign war chest he is raising. Amodei estimates it will take $10-$12 million to beat Reid. He expects most of his campaign contributions will come from out of state.
Of Reid, Amodei said, “I think the present office holder is someone whose focus has become on things other than the people who gave him the job.”
Asked about taxes, Amodei said, “I voted for taxes when I thought it was the right thing to do and it was an open process. There were times when it was the wrong thing, like the most recent time because the economy is in the toilet.”
But in the 2009 session, Amodei sponsored a bill to allow the gasoline tax to go up in Washoe County, an issue that was approved in an advisory vote of the public. “I don’t blame the governor for vetoing it. He’s got to do what he thinks is right. But the Legislature has to do what it thinks is right,” he said. The Legislature overrode the veto of the governor.
“To be successful the (Republican) candidate has to be able to join Republicans, non-partisans and what I refer to are Nevada Democrats,” said Amodei, who is divorced with two grown daughters.
“I’m running because I look at the qualifications of people who are interested and I think my qualifications stack up in an election and public service context very well against the other people who have expressed an interest.”