Monday, Aug. 3, 2015 | 2 a.m.
Steven Horsford has built a career of service without using a blueprint. His path has resulted from what he calls a “culmination of experiences” beginning 25 years ago as an intern for Las Vegas advertising agency R&R Partners.
“When I started, I did not know what direction I would take or where this experience would lead me,” the former congressman and Nevada Senate majority leader said from his office in Washington, D.C. “It was not a master plan. I didn’t say I was going to do this for X number of years.”
But there was a single thread stitching his life experiences.
“For me, it always has been a journey of, ‘Where can I serve best, and where can I serve most effectively?’ ” Horsford said.
The famous R&R slogan, “What happens here, stays here,” has not applied to Horsford, whose journey has taken him across the country to D.C., where he has partnered with two major Las Vegas companies: MGM Resorts International and R&R.
His firm, R&R Resources+, in which R&R Partners is a minority investor with a 49 percent stake, announced it has been retained as the agency of record for MGM National Harbor in Maryland. The resort rivals any in Las Vegas, costing $1.3 billion to build and scheduled to open in the second half of 2016. R&R Resources+ also represents MGM Springfield in Massachusetts, another lavish resort, set to open in late 2018.
Horsford’s charge is to lead the resorts’ marketing strategies as they try to build customer bases. Though R&R Partners is a financial backer, R&R Resources+ is an independently operated Minority Business Enterprise, a designation for businesses that are at least 51 percent minority owned. Horsford’s operation aims to develop and promote “diversity marketing, corporate social responsibility and workforce strategy” and handles brand management, public relations, social media and media placement for the resorts.
“It was important for me to be connected with partners who share my core values,” Horsford said. “It’s about people for me, and it always will be. The one thing I’ve realized in my life is I have to make a difference and impact the lives of others, whether it’s in the public sector or the private sector.”
Horsford was forced to do some unanticipated soul-searching in November, after he was defeated by Republican Assemblyman Cresent Hardy in the race to represent Nevada’s 4th Congressional District.
Horsford mulled another campaign but opted instead to head the fledgling Resources+ operation. He and his longtime friend and adviser, Billy Vassiliadis of R&R Partners, talked about expanding the scope and vision of Resources+, with Horsford particularly interested in R&R’s expansion into Mexico City, a move to try to grow its relationship with Hispanics.
In March, Horsford and Vassiliadis agreed Horsford would become managing director of the R&R Resources+ office in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia region.
Asked to reflect on the recent, pivotal moment in his life when he lost an election he was roundly expected to win, the 42-year-old Las Vegas native pauses, then says, “Well, I didn’t win, in the end, because I didn’t get enough votes.”
He laughs and elaborates a bit, talking about a midterm climate filled with people who had “tuned out” of the process, especially in Nevada, because of legislative acrimony and gridlock at the national level. (Voter turnout in Democratic-leaning Clark County was lackluster, a significant reason for Horsford’s defeat).
Once held up as a rising figure in the Democratic Party, Horsford now is serving in an unexpected but, he says, fulfilling capacity in the resort industry.
Will he run for office again? Not today, but …
“I will never say never to future opportunities to serve, but I’m focused on what’s in front of me, and that’s this new partnership and my family,” Horsford said. “I am spending a little more time going to my son’s basketball games and seeing my daughter play soccer.”
For a man with no master plan, that sounds like a great one.