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Republican state senator launches 2014 bid for lieutenant governor

Updated Monday, July 8, 2013 | 1 p.m.

State Sen. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas, said today he plans to run for Lieutenant Governor in 2014.

Republican Lt. Gov Brian Krolicki cannot seek reelection because of term limits, leaving the office open for a spirited fight between Democrats and Republicans in the 2014 election.

“It’ll be, I’m sure, a very competitive race,” Hutchison said this morning in a brief interview. “I think anytime a constitutional office is open, that people are interested in that.”

Independent political journalist Jon Ralston tweeted Hutchison’s announcement this morning, making Hutchison the first candidate to officially say he’s seeking the position.

He immediately received the endorsement of Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who personally tweeted that Hutchison “will make a tremendous Lt. Governor and I look forward to campaigning with him.”

Such an announcement could dissuade other Republicans from joining the race, given that the governor has essentially signaled he’s chosen Hutchison as his favored candidate.

Hutchison said he made his decision after consulting with his Republican colleagues in the state Senate and gaining the approval of his family.

“I’ve been considering it for awhile,” he said. “I met with my family over the Fourth of July weekend to get all my kids down from college and kind of held a family council and talked about the opportunity. They were very supportive. They decided this could be a way to really further my public service to all Nevadans.”

The first-term senator impressed legislative observers this year with his insightful questioning during committee hearings and his consistent commitment to bipartisanship, perhaps most apparent in his work with Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, to pass a bill allowing for medical marijuana dispensaries.

Prior to running for state Senate in 2012, the Las Vegas attorney most famously represented Nevada in a lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Many political observers expect the race for lieutenant governor to be especially crowded because of a potential chain of events that could vault the winner into the governor’s mansion.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval is running for reelection in 2014 and so far has no Democratic opponent. Should be win his reelection campaign, some believe Sandoval would be a top prospect to run against U.S. Sen. Harry Reid during the 2016 election, when Reid is up for reelection.

A Sandoval victory in 2016 would leave the governor’s office vacant, meaning the lieutenant governor would be appointed governor.

For such an option to be available to Sandoval, he’d most likely want a Republican in the lieutenant governor’s office to avoid ceding control of the state to a Democrat.

Hutchison declined to comment on such speculation, saying only that he briefly chatted with Sandoval about his run.

“As far as I know, he is focused on 2014 and winning reelection,” he said. “I don’t know anything different than that.”

Hutchison said he plans to launch a campaign website, begin fundraising and doing all of the other necessities of running a statewide campaign within the coming weeks.

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