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July 18, 2019

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What schedules can say about the candidates for governor

Rory Reid the busier campaigner, as he trails Sandoval in the polls

Rory Reid and Brian Sandoval at the Nevada Subcontractors Association Luncheon

Leila Navidi

Gubernatorial candidates Rory Reid and Brian Sandoval engage in an impromptu debate during the Nevada Subcontractors Association’s annual luncheon at the Eastside Cannery Casino in Las Vegas Wednesday, August 11, 2010.

Rory Reid vs. Brian Sandoval

Gubernatorial candidates Rory Reid and Brian Sandoval engage in an impromptu debate during the Nevada Subcontractors Association's annual luncheon at the Eastside Cannery Casino in Las Vegas Wednesday, August 11, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Sun Coverage

Gov. Jim Gibbons has been an infrequent presence in the Capitol since his election in 2006.

Former senior staff said it was common for them not to know where he was or how he spent his time. During one remarkable nine-week stretch in 2008, Gibbons stopped by his office only five times, never for a full eight hours.

It was with this in mind that the Sun asked the two major gubernatorial candidates, Republican Brian Sandoval and Democrat Rory Reid, to share their July schedules.

Wouldn’t voters want to know how the candidates spent their time? Shouldn’t they have an idea of how transparent and responsive these men might be, if elected?

Sandoval released a partial schedule, stripped of any fundraising events and meetings with individuals or groups to protect their privacy, he said. Most of the events his campaign listed were media interviews, many by telephone.

Over the 31 days, Sandoval listed 10 events, excluding media interviews. He toured four businesses and three schools as part of his “100 Schools & 100 Businesses Tour” launched earlier in the campaign.

He also had a meeting with the Northern Nevada Development Authority and the Nevada Realtors Association, and spoke at the Nevada State Republican Convention.

Reid released a more robust schedule of 34 events — a mix of fundraisers, house parties with supporters, picnics, barbecues and community events.

The contrast between the campaigns’ engagement with voters was perhaps most striking over the Fourth of July weekend — prime time for candidates to do some baby kissing and handshaking.

Sandoval had a Saturday interview with a Reno radio station.

That day, Reid went to a Summerlin parade in the morning, followed by a Boulder City parade, a community barbecue, a house party and an Ultimate Fighting Championship fundraising event that night.

An expert who reviewed the candidates’ schedules at the request of the Sun saw a reflection of the standings in the race — Sandoval enjoys a large lead.

“Reid’s campaign was far more energetic and more typical of a candidate who is behind in the polls — more frenetic,” said Fred Lokken, a political-science professor at Truckee Meadows Community College. “Sandoval was ahead, seemingly more relaxed and sort of coasting.”

Lokken expects the candidates’ schedules to become busier as the November election draws near. He said polls suggest the race is tightening — Reid is down by 10 in some polls compared with 19 points in earlier surveys — and the candidates will hold more events as the public increasingly becomes aware of its looming choice.

Both candidates have day jobs — Sandoval with the law firm Jones Vargas, Reid with the law firm Lionel Sawyer & Collins. Reid also is chairman of the Clark County Commission, which accounted for four of the dates on his public schedule.

“I’ve said publicly, I will have the most open administration in the history of Nevada,” Reid said. “I will make my schedule public. I will have regular outreach to citizens, through town halls ... People will know where I am and why I’m there. They will have a basis of how I’m using my time and their money to move the state’s situation forward.”

Sandoval acknowledged that he didn’t list all of the events he attended.

“I want to respect their privacy,” he said of individuals and groups he met with. “I don’t feel a need to pad my schedule because I’m extremely busy.

“I assure you, every day I’m busy from sunrise to sundown. I’m meeting with different groups, different individuals. I’m traveling this state, getting the pulse of this state.”

He said that when he was attorney general, he would be one of the first state employees in the office and one of the last to leave.

Continuing his more aggressive approach to the race, Reid accused Sandoval of hiding from the public.

It was just last week that Reid challenged Sandoval to an impromptu debate at their first joint appearance, at a business luncheon. They were scheduled to make speeches, but Reid asked Sandoval to debate him on the spot. Sandoval accepted, and the two candidates answered a few questions from the audience.

Sandoval’s campaign later said that counted toward one of four agreed-upon debates, and that there would only be three more. Sandoval said the campaigns have agreed to three debates, one each in Reno, Elko and Las Vegas, all of which will be televised statewide.

“These will give everyone an opportunity to see the two of us,” Sandoval said. Nevada gubernatorial candidates have traditionally held three debates. “Historically, it has worked real well in Nevada elections.”

Reid, in an interview, challenged Sandoval to more debates.

“I think Nevada needs to see its two candidates for governor,” he said. “We need something different from Jim Gibbons. We need a sharp break from that kind of closed administration.”

As Lokken notes, the schedules reflect their campaigns’ standing. Reid had a big cash advantage, but trails in the polls, so he needs to goad Sandoval into making public appearances where he could make a mistake. (Preferably for Democrats, one that would be caught on tape and ready for a negative television ad.)

Sandoval needs money to compete with Reid’s financial advantage. The dirty secret of campaigning, according to politicians and consultants, is that huge chunks of candidates’ time are spent grubbing for the fuel of politics — donations.

As he reviewed Reid and Sandoval’s schedules, Lokken jokingly invoked the campaign of William McKinley, the Republican who defined the term “front porch campaign” during the presidential race of 1896.

While Democrat William Jennings Bryan crisscrossed the country, giving as many as six speeches a day, McKinley stayed home, speaking to visitors from his front porch.

McKinley’s style was reviled by political opponents and snooty newspapermen.

Despite not campaigning, McKinley won.

CORRECTION: The original version of this story incorrectly referred to the presidential candidate who successfully used the "front porch campaign" in 1896 at Grover Cleveland. It was William McKinley. | (August 16, 2010)

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