Published Friday, Sept. 11, 2009 | 10:20 a.m.
Updated Friday, Sept. 11, 2009 | 7:54 p.m.
CARSON CITY – Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley says she “wasn’t frightened out of the race” for the Democratic nomination for governor by Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid.
Buckley told the Sun that she would have been “very competitive” and “I could have won.”
She announced Friday she would not be a candidate for governor, not wanting to be away from her family for the 15 months of political campaigning. That leaves Reid the favorite in the Democratic primary.
Reid would not talk to a reporter from the Las Vegas Sun but issued a statement that he admires Buckley, whom he has known for more than 20 years. “I am eager to work with her as we build a new vision for Nevada,” he said in his prepared statement.
Buckley has served 12 years in the Assembly and is prohibited from running for another term. There was some immediate speculation she might run for the state Senate or for the Clark County Commission next year.
“I don’t envision running for elective office in 2010,” she said. When her 10-year-old son is a little older, she may consider returning to the political world, she said.
Former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Dick Bryan said he was not surprised by the Buckley announcement. He said he did not see any movement by her in such things as calling people for support or money.
“This is great news for Rory Reid,” Bryan said. “He apparently will not face a divisive or difficult primary.” On the other hand, he said, the Republicans have a lot of candidates in the race for governor that could affect their chances.
In the meantime, Buckley is still the speaker of the Assembly and will hold that position if the Legislature is called into special session to deal with the state’s financial troubles. And she’s on a legislative committee to turn Nevada into a logistic center.
“And it will not end my advocacy,” she said, referring to issues such as domestic violence, abused children and consumer protection.
Gov. Jim Gibbons, a Republican seeking a second term, said he was not surprised about the Buckley decision. “When you run for governor, you have to run on your record,” he said.
Daniel Burns, communications director for Gibbons, said Buckley “was personally responsible for two colossal tax increases, including one that is helping people lose their jobs right now.”
Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said a lot of Democrats in Northern Nevada were “deeply disappointed” that Buckley won’t be in the race. “She (Buckley) was not scared out of the race, but this was about her family,” said Leslie, a strong supporter of Buckley’s.
Had she entered the race and won, Buckley would have been Nevada’s first female governor. The state has never had a woman U.S. senator, either.
Leslie said this decision was one of “true family values.”
Buckley said the campaign for governor would have taken 15 months and she did not want to be away from her family that long.
Next week, U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval will step down from his judgeship and is expected to enter the race for the GOP nomination, challenging Gibbons.
Bryan said Sandoval has followed the judicial canons by not talking politics but already “tipped his hand” that he will jump into the race.