Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010 | 3:35 p.m.
Gubernatorial candidates Rory Reid and Brian Sandoval held their first debate today -- an unexpected one -- after Reid challenged Sandoval to hash out the issues during the candidates' first appearance together.
Reid, a Democrat, and Sandoval, a Republican, were scheduled to give separate keynote speeches to members of the Nevada Subcontractors Association during a luncheon at the Eastside Cannery Hotel. Planners made the format of the event clear before it started: No questions. No debate.
Reid had a different plan.
The Clark County commissioner, who won the chance to speak first in a card draw, jumped on stage, greeted the crowd of about 200 and immediately challenged a stunned Sandoval to a debate. The candidates have a debate scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 29, but Reid didn’t want to wait.
“I was wondering if maybe you’d want to have a dress rehearsal?” Reid asked Sandoval from the podium.
Sandoval sat at a table, slowly shaking his head, lips pursed.
“No?” Reid goaded.
“I said yes,” Sandoval replied, standing to join Reid on stage.
“Frankly, I’m surprised you said yes,” Reid said.
“I’m surprised you asked,” Sandoval replied.
It was the first debate between the two since they became the chosen candidates of their parties. Reid, who frequently notes that he has agreed to 12 previous debates, accused Sandoval of running away from public discussions of issues, but Sandoval denied it. He said the men have four more debates planned.
The back-and-forth lasted about 15 minutes. Nervous organizers ended the debate soon after it began and directed each candidate to give the speech he had prepared. Both talked about the need for strong leadership, their ideas for improving schools and their plans for economic development.
“It was a great opportunity,” Sandoval said afterward. “I enjoyed that.”
Reid beamed, happy that his plan worked.
“I thought Brian was hiding,” Reid said. “I thought the people of Nevada deserved a debate. They have a right to know how we differ.”
The exterior of the Eastside Cannery Hotel and Casino stands out among the Boulder Strip with its saw-tooth roofline and bluish hue. Like its North Las Vegas sister property, nostalgic murals decorate the outside of the building. Inside, visitors are transported to the industrial era with open-truss ceilings, oversized and exposed mechanical details throughout the property.
Within the 16-story hotel tower, the 307 guest rooms and suites resemble the property’s industrial feel and feature floor-to-ceiling windows, giving guests views of the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding mountains. Standard rooms measure in at more than 450 square feet, but visitors booking a corner room are treated to more than 600 square feet of room space and even more spectacular views.
The 65,000-square foot casino keeps the action going with more than 2,000 slots, 26 table games and a 450-seat bingo hall. Five restaurants tempt the palate. Live music can be found at The Pinups Bar and Marilyn’s. The 18,000-square foot Casablanca Room features headline performers and boxing/wrestling/martial arts matches.