Regardless of whether Gov. Jim Gibbons wins or loses his fight for re-election in Nevada's Republican primary election for Governor on Tuesday, the embattled state leader plans to celebrate at the end of the race.
"I am going to celebrate if I don't win the primary," Gibbons said Thursday in an interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal. "I don't look at this election as a termination of any part of my life. It is the door opening for a new era, a new opportunity."
Recent polling data shows Gibbons trailing his primary opponent, former U.S. District Court Judge Brian Sandoval, by a wide double-digit margin, but that hasn't dissuaded the GOP incumbent. To make his own case to voters, Gibbons pointed to home state Republican Sen. John Ensign, who has recently landed in the headlines for being the subject of ethics investigations that may hamper his own political fate in the next election cycle:
He compared himself to Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who early in his political career in 1994 was 17 points behind incumbent Rep. Jim Bilbray for a seat in the House of Representatives. Bilbray became embroiled in a scandal at the tail end of the campaign and Ensign wound up winning by about 1,400 votes.
Gibbons said he expects a conservative Republican surge like the one in 1994 that pushed Ensign over the top to give him a primary victory Tuesday.
Despite Gibbons' first term as Nevada's leader encompassing some speed bumps -- including "allegations that he cheated on his wife, a possible dalliance with a former Playboy model, an ugly encounter with a cocktail waitress and a nasty divorce" -- the GOP hopeful still thinks he's got what it takes to tackle issues important to the residents of his state.
When Gibbons was asked what he'd cut from the state's budget to balance a massive shortfall projected to climb into the billions over the two-year cycle, the Nevada Governor had this to say:
"Do we really need a brands commission? Do we need the taxicab authority? Do we need the chiropractic board? What is it that we truly need in this state? Can we get away without some of these?"
Meanwhile, if things don't go as well as Gibbons hopes in the primary election, it seems that the GOP leader will be plenty content to have some of the weight of his gubernatorial responsibilities lifted off is his shoulders.
On the darker side of serving as Nevada's leader, Gibbons told the Review:
"You have no private life at all," Gibbons said. You can't go down to the store to buy a couple of tomatoes without having to talk to five, six, seven people who want to tell you their unemployment check didn't arrive today, that their welfare check should have been more or how pleased they are that you kept the line on not raising taxes."
Gibbons contends that he genuinely enjoys engaging with the residents of his state, but that "it just takes up so much time" to do it. "You don't have enough hours in the day," he explains.