Ahead by double-digits against Democrat Rory Reid since winning Nevada’s GOP primary in early June, gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval has been in no rush to schedule face time with his opponent. Reid has publicly challenged Sandoval to a dozen debates and has sent out numerous press releases accusing the Republican candidate of “hiding from questions” and “ducking” a face-to-face forum, while Sandoval has largely ignored him and has said he plans to participate in only four debates.
But at a Nevada Subcontractors Association luncheon yesterday, Reid surprised the room and got a slightly stunned Sandoval out of his chair and onstage for an impromptu mini-debate by jovially asking if he wanted to have a “dress rehearsal.” The two were supposed to deliver separate keynote speeches at the event but in a move that was surely pre-planned, Reid deftly cajoled Sandoval into a quick question-and-answer period consisting of a couple of audience queries.
The surprises stopped there, however, as the spur-of-the-moment session did not yield much in the way of additional eye-openers. Both candidates talked about Nevada’s need for good leadership, better schools, and smart economic development. Perhaps the most notable remarks of the exchange were Reid’s repeated mentions of his father, including joking that as Nevada’s governor he would work effectively with the senior senator, with whom he “has a pretty good relationship.” Reid has so far been reluctant to advertise his last name and his campaign press releases often refer to him simply as “Rory.”
Reid’s two-pronged challenge lies not only in overcoming the negative stigma of his surname but also in painting his positions as different from those of Sandoval. As long as Reid’s policies look a lot like that of his GOP opponent–which, so far, many of them do–it is hard to see how he can gain any traction, barring some massive gaffe from Sandoval. Reid surely knows this, which is almost certainly why he is so eager to schedule debates and why he goaded his foe onto the stage yesterday. The more Sandoval talks, the better Reid’s chances to force a slip-up and gain points in the polls.
Watch yesterday’s twelve minute exchange here: