06/09/2015 09:29 am ET | Updated Jun 09, 2015

Nevada GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval Won't Run For Senate In 2016


Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) announced Tuesday that he will not be running for his state's open U.S. Senate seat in 2016, disappointing many Republicans who saw him as the strongest candidate to win.

"I have said many times that it is an honor and a privilege to serve as Nevada's Chief Executive and that I love my job. My heart is in my responsibilities as Governor and continuing to build the New Nevada. My undivided attention must be devoted to being the best Governor, husband and father I can be. For these reasons, I will not seek the United States Senate seat that will be available in 2016," Sandoval said in a statement posted on his website.

Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston also reported Monday night that Sandoval was expected to announce he was not running Tuesday.

"I support Governor Sandoval's difficult decision to not run for the United States Senate," said Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who had urged the governor to run. "Under his leadership, our state's economy continues to experience the Nevada comeback that we all know it is capable of achieving. While Governor Sandoval's voice and experience would have been a welcomed addition here on Capitol Hill, I join the entire Nevada family in wishing him success for the duration of his term in office."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) revealed in March that he won't seek re-election in 2016, setting off a scramble to see whether Republicans will be able to pick up his seat. Reid has endorsed Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, a former state attorney general, who announced her candidacy shortly after his announcement.

Sandoval easily won a second term last year, and is the first Latino to serve as Nevada's governor. But he has long sounded reluctant about entering the Senate race.

Do you really think … I would propose the things that I proposed last night, thinking I might be on a ballot?” Sandoval said in January, referring to a proposed tax increase that would be the largest in Nevada history.

Las Vegas City Council member Bob Beers (R) has already declared his candidacy on the Republican side. U.S. Reps. Joe Heck and Mark Amodei, both Republicans, have already opted out of the race, but they could reconsider now that Sandoval isn't running.

This story has been updated to include comment from Heller.

CORRECTION: This piece originally stated that Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) is also thinking of running for the Senate seat. She recently announced, however, that she is sitting out the race.

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