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April 18, 2015

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Sandoval portrays his job hopping as a strength in campaign for governor

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

Michael Montandon

Michael Montandon

Gov. Jim Gibbons

Gov. Jim Gibbons

GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval flashed his biggest advantage in the Republican primary — campaign cash — by releasing a radio ad Tuesday, arguing he will restore the public’s trust in the governor’s office while helping businesses create jobs.

Tucked into the 60-second spot — and repeated twice in the news release — is a noteworthy biographical boast: “Sandoval’s commitment to the public trust led him to become the first federal judge in Nevada history to give up a lifetime appointment to run for governor.”

The fact that Sandoval departed the federal bench has led some of his opponents to cast him as a quitter. He also left his Assembly seat to join the Nevada Gaming Commission, departed the commission to run for attorney general and abandoned his attorney general post for the federal bench.

Mercenary political consultants often cite Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” when talking about campaigns, particularly the philosophy of turning your opponent’s perceived strength into a weakness. This, it seems, is an attempt by Sandoval to turn his weakness — job hopping — into a strength.

Or maybe it’s merely trying to insulate himself from a line of attack.

Regardless, his opponents called it spin.

“It’s not laudable to quit the federal judiciary, heavens no,” said Republican candidate for governor Mike Montandon, a former North Las Vegas mayor. “Quite the opposite, when you’re guaranteed that the most liberal administration in history will appoint your replacement. There’s nothing laudable in that.”

Montandon added: “To me, that sounds like saying he’s proud that he’s the first in history to quit his job for no reason.”

Ron Bath, interim campaign manager for Gov. Jim Gibbons, said, “When someone takes on a position, appointed by the president of the United States, it’s amazing someone can give that up thinking it’s a good thing.”

Sandoval’s spokeswoman, Mary-Sarah Kinner, said in a statement, “Brian has always felt he has a lifetime commitment to the people of the state. He left the bench because he cares deeply about this state.”

Sandoval is leading in the polls, but his margin has narrowed, according to the most recent Las Vegas Review-Journal poll. Gibbons trailed Sandoval 30 percent to 37 percent, with Montandon garnering 9 percent in the poll.

A January poll had Gibbons 16 points down.

Although Sandoval’s ad doesn’t attack Gibbons directly, it opens with faux newscasters reading headlines: “Voter approval ratings are at an all-time low. Another black eye for the Silver State in another big political scandal ...”

Then the narrator comes on: “Do you remember a time when we weren’t embarrassed? A time when honor and integrity were the rule, not the exception. It can be that way again.”

Sandoval speaks at the end, saying he’d make “conservative and necessary decisions” and help Nevada businesses create jobs. “I’ll work every day to control wasteful government spending, and I won’t support a corporate income tax.”

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