How about Brian Sandoval as a 2016 political force, either against Harry Reid or in a dark-horse run at the Presidency?

I initially wanted to write a post about Gary Herbert, the Governor of Utah — by some measures, he’s the most popular Governor in America. Problem is, he’s a Republican, and Utah is a pretty red state — obviously it went big for Romney in 2012, as he has some roots there (72.6%), but it also went big for McCain in 2008 (62%) and Bush in 2004 (71.5%) — so the popularity aspect may be a bit skewed, for sure. There’s another popular Governor in the American West of interest, though: Brian Sandoval, the current Governor of Nevada. He’s only 50, he’s the first Hispanic elected state-wide in Nevada basically ever, and he’s fairly popular: no one is expected to essentially run against him this year. His approval ratings are in the 60s on average, and this is in a state trending purple/blue: Obama won 52 percent in Nevada in 2012. Sandoval won’t even be 55 in 2016 — and he can’t run for Governor again after 2018, per term limits. So what’s his plan?

Most people think he’s headed straight at Harry Reid’s Senate seat, and that seems the most likely: nationally, his profile can’t possibly be that large, especially in the I-95 money corridor. That said, the favorite for the 2016 GOP Convention is Las Vegas, and if Chris Christie is out, Jeb Bush is out, and (perhaps most importantly) Marco Rubio is out (since Sandoval and Rubio would have similar national narratives), maybe there’s a spot for Sandoval. After all, there’s been a big theme around the Republican party across the past few years of “changing the culture” and “pushing the leadership of tomorrow out there now” — running a 52-year old Hispanic who remains popular in a state becoming more and more Democratic could be a good story to roll out there. (It could also massively backfire, especially against Hilary Clinton, who would wake up on Election Day with a massive lead already given the current layout of the Electoral College.)

Another problem: he’s fiscally conservative but socially moderate, and he … ahem … leans pro-choice. His voting record overall leans liberal. (Again, this might be exactly what the GOP needs.)

He’s also not the most charismatic public speaker, as you can see a little in this clip:

A national run? Doubtful. A major U.S. Senate campaign vs. the face of the Senate Democrats for the past decade? Quite possibly. But never discount anything in politics; if Obama 2008 taught us anything, sometimes people go when they think they’re ready — and it ends up working out.

Ted Bauer

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