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Brian Sandoval defeats Gov. Jim Gibbons: ‘We did it’


AP Photo/The Reno Gazette-Journal, Candice Towell

Former federal judge and gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval celebrates his victory over incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons in the party primary at the Garden Shop Nursery in Reno on Tuesday, June, 8, 2010. Standing by during his acceptance speech is his wife, Kathleen, and children, James, Maddie, and Marisa.

Updated Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | 12:11 a.m.

Click to enlarge photo

Gov. Jim Gibbons concedes the election Tuesday night from the steps of the Governor's Mansion in Carson City. Gibbons is the first incumbent governor in Nevada in a century to lose a nominating election.

Primary results

Republican 2010 Primary Victory Unity Celebration

Sharron Angle celebrates her victory in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate during the Primary 2010 Victory Unity Celebration with the Clark County Republican Party at the Orleans Hotel Tuesday, June 8, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Gov. Jim Gibbons has been thrown out of office after a tumultuous term that was marred by a bitter divorce and allegations of infidelities.

The first-term Republican lost the GOP primary Tuesday to former federal judge Brian Sandoval. Rory Reid won the Democratic primary.

With all precincts reporting, Sandoval had 55.5 percent of the vote; Gibbons had 27.2 percent and Mike Montandon had 12.6 percent. Sandoval accepted the Republican nomination and spoke to reporters in Reno.

"We did it," he said.

Sandoval thanked his family and supporters, and his two primary opponents for their "years of service to Nevada."

He also took a shot at Reid, who he said tried to mettle in the primary.

"He tried to defeat us in the primary and it didn't work," Sandoval said. "Now, there's no more hiding. We're going to have a debate about the future of this state."

He said after his speech that he believed Reid would try to raise taxes as Sandoval reaffirmed his promise not to raise taxes, including the taxes that will expire in 2011.

Sandoval gave his speech surrounded by his wife, Kathleen, and three children.

At a historic white country house in Reno, the establishment Republicans backing Sandoval gathered over pia and wings. Soon after the results were reported, the crowd, including state Sen. Bill Raggio and former Gov. Kenny Guinn, celebrated Sandoval's victory.

But the party broke up quickly, as it became clear that Sharron Angle would defeat Sue Lowden, who the GOP establishment supported for U.S. Senate.

The prospect of Angle heading the GOP ticket, of Sandoval campaigning with her? Some supporters literally shuddered at the thought.

Guinn had this and only this to say about Angle: "If she wins, she'll be the candidate. It'll be a tough race for her."

Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, who had supported Lowden, said of Angle heading the ticket: "It bothers me. She's a little far to the right. Excuse me. She's way too far to the right."

He said he would support Reid for re-election. "Sharron Angle and the tea party are on the ridiculous side. The far left and the far right went goofy."

Sandoval has consistently led in the polls, benefiting from Gibbons' troubled term in office, characterized by personal scandal and public strife. The state's business and political establishment have thrown their support behind him, almost entirely abandoning Gibbons, their candidate of choice in the 2006 race.

Meanwhile, Montandon, the former North Las Vegas mayor, never appeared to gain traction with donors or voters despite his 12 years in elected office.

Gibbons is the latest incumbent to be ousted this election year. But his woes had more to do with his own problems than anti-incumbent rage prevalent in other states.

In addition to the divorce and allegations of affairs, Gibbons has led a hard-line drumbeat against taxes and the federal government that alienated even members of his own party. Making matters worse for Gibbons was Nevada's abysmal economy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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