By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Republican and front-running governor candidate Brian Sandoval said today voters can expect to see him debate Democrat Rory Reid three times this fall in advance of the November general election.
Sandoval, interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, said he is still in negotiations with Reid over a debate schedule, but that three debates in the different regions of the state should provide voters with the opportunity they need to evaluate the candidates.
“I think that will be sufficient,” he said.
Sandoval’s comments took the Reid camp by surprise.
Reid spokesperson Mike Trask said Sandoval has been “hiding” and that there has been no communication between the two campaigns regarding a debate schedule.
“We’ve been chasing Brian Sandoval around the state,” said Trask. “Clearly he is buying time.”
Reid has accepted any and all offers to debate his opponent while Sandoval has turned down at least seven opportunities to do so, he said.
Reid had on a prior NewsMakers program challenged Sandoval to one debate a month through election day.
Reid also recently challenged Sandoval to debate him monthly on Jon Ralston’s statewide television program Face to Face. Sandoval has said he will not agree to even one debate on the program, according to Face to Face executive producer Dana Gentry.
Sandoval has a substantial lead over Reid, chairman of the Clark County Commission, according to different poll results.
Sandoval is a former federal judge who stepped down from a lifetime appointment to the bench to run for governor. He defeated incumbent GOP Gov. Jim Gibbons in the June Republican primary.
On the program, Sandoval was also challenged on how he will balance the upcoming budget if elected governor. Gibbons has estimated the budget will have a shortfall of as much as $3.5 billion.
Sandoval reiterated that any budget plan cannot rely on new taxes, and noted that the shortfall may not be as severe as has been reported so far. A report from legislative staff shows the state is bringing in more money than expected, he said.
Sandoval says the deficit will range somewhere between $1.5 billion and $3.5 billion. But it will have to be addressed through spending reductions, he said.
“I think in this environment in a recession that raising taxes would be the worst thing that we can do,” he said.
Asked how he can balance the budget without raising taxes, Sandoval said the state has to reduce spending.
“We have to look at the spending side, that is exactly what I’m going to do,” he said.
Sandoval said teacher layoffs will not be part of any plan he devises to balance the budget.
With Nevada leading the nation in unemployment at 14 percent, the worst move would be to lay people off, he said.
Sandoval on debate schedule:
Sandoval on budget deficit:
Sandoval on suggestion of layoffs: