Titus, Gibbons to face off
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus and Republican Rep. Jim Gibbons each won their party’s nominations Tuesday to be the next governor of Nevada.
Titus, a political science professor and 17-year veteran legislator, led Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson by 54 percent to 36 percent, or about 12,000 votes, with about two-thirds of the expected vote counted.
Gibbons, a five-term Reno congressman led state Sen. Bob Beers, an anti-tax advocate from Las Vegas, by 19 percentage points. Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt trailed with 18 percent of the 71,000 Republican votes counted.
Gibbons said he planned to “mend fences” with Hunt and Beers, who both had lobbed attacks on his fiscal conservative credentials in the weeks leading up to the primary to select a successor to term-limited Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn, who did not endorse any of the candidates.
“I’ll lead the fight into November,” Gibbons said, from a victory party in Reno. “The message is clear. (Voters) are very interested in seeing government spending kept under control, taxes kept low and yet we have to provide those essential government services.”
Titus said her win showed she could buck the conventional wisdom that said she would not be able to raise enough money for a successful primary bid.
“Conventional wisdom supports the status quo. The voters of Nevada are tired of the status quo,” she said.
Her opponent, Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson, was not ready to concede defeat. His spokesman Adam Candee said the campaign was waiting to see more votes counted.
“We are still maintaining hope that this race is going to turn around. We feel confident in our get-out-the-vote efforts. We want to see more precincts come in,” Candee said.
Gibson, a corporate lawyer and mayor of the state’s second largest city, outspent Titus in the primary, which was marked by ethics allegation and personal attacks.
Titus said she would “extend the olive branch” to the mayor.
Beers said he called Gibbons to concede at about 9:30 p.m. He said his campaign was successful because it focused the Republican party on spending issues. The senator has used his candidacy to promote a spending restraint initiative that may appear on the November ballot.
“It was a wild ride,” Beers told The Associated Press. “But I have no regrets. I think the message probably got through to the Republican Party and we have moved the debate.”
Hunt said she would support Gibbons.
“We’re very similar, our values, as far as wanting low taxes, our philosophies were very much the same,” she said.
Election officials expected about 25 percent of registered voters to cast ballots in the state’s first-ever August primary; about 15 percent voted early or absentee. Voter turnout Tuesday was moderate.