AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Published Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 | 4:45 p.m.
Updated Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 | 6:38 p.m.
RENO — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that he won't waste his time raising money for Democrat Bob Goodman's unlikely bid to unseat Nevada's hugely popular Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval in November.
The Nevada Democrat also said Sandoval's current high level of support is due in large part to an improving economy and wouldn't necessarily carry over to a U.S. Senate race should Sandoval decide to leave midterm and challenge Reid when he seeks re-election to a sixth term in 2016.
Goodman, 75, a relative political unknown who directed Nevada's Department of Tourism and Economic Development in the 1970s, won the nomination in a June primary against seven other candidates. But he did so with only 25 percent of the vote, compared to 30 percent for "none of these candidates."
Reid said he tried but failed to persuade better-known Democrats to enter the race. He told reporters at his office in Reno on Monday that Goodman's campaign telephoned him a few days ago to ask if he would participate in a fundraiser, but, "I said no."
"I have these candidates I have to help raise some money, and I want it to be meaningful," said Reid, who is helping Democrats seeking all Nevada's other constitutional offices, especially Lucy Flores in what is expected to be a hotly contested race against Republican Mark Hutchison for lieutenant governor.
"Raising a few bucks for him is not going to help him," Reid said about the international trade and investment consultant who didn't actively campaign or raise any money for the primary. "Bob spends most of his time in China."
Goodman said Monday that it was the first he'd heard that Reid wouldn't help. He said the news was disappointing but not unexpected.
"What about democracy and helping the Democrats?" Goodman told The Associated Press. "I think it makes him look not very good. I had 18,000 Democrats who voted for me. If he doesn't want to support me, then just keep quiet.
"I'm out there campaigning and trying to raise money. It's not over until the fat lady sings," he said.
Some Democrats said they were embarrassed by the fact their nominee effectively lost to "none of the above" and have raised concerns that the weak challenger at the top of the ticket will drag down other Democrats at the polls in November. But Reid, 74, said he doesn't share those concerns.
"If I were embarrassed, I'd be embarrassed about myself," Reid said about his own failure to recruit a more competitive candidate. "If you have a governor and the times economically are better than they were — and certainly that is the case with him — he should be a popular governor. He's popular, he's a nice guy and we couldn't get anybody to run against him."
"I don't think it matters that much," Reid added. "We have a plan, and we're going to try to execute the best we can. I don't have to waste money on the governor's race."
Sandoval, 51, already has raised more than $3 million for his re-election campaign. His campaign had no comment on Reid's remarks, campaign manager Jeremy Hughes said Monday.
Sandoval has insisted he intends to serve his entire four-year term if he's re-elected, but his 90 percent showing in the GOP primary has only encouraged party faithful who view him as having the best chance to unseat Reid.
President George W. Bush appointed Sandoval as a U.S. district judge in 2005 after Reid nominated him for the post. Reid said they remain friends and that a challenge from Sandoval would have no impact on his own re-election plans.
"If Brian wants to run for the Senate, let him. I don't care," Reid said. "We get along well. I understand how things work. But someone should give Brian some advice — and I'm sure they have and will. Governors who leave midterm do very poorly in elections."