Brian Sandoval, the popular Republican governor of Nevada, announced Tuesday he won't run for the Silver State's open Senate seat.
"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," Sandoval said in a statement. "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."
Though GOP operatives weren't expecting Sandoval to run for the seat being vacated by retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Republicans in the state were holding off on announcing bids until Sandoval officially announced his intentions. The governor's official exit now creates an opening for other Republicans to enter the contest, namely GOP Rep. Joe Heck, the top choice of national Republicans.
Heck — who represents Nevada's competitive 3rd District — moved closer to a bid last month.
If Heck enters the race, he would give Republicans a top recruit in the contest, currently rated Tilts Democrat by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call. President Barack Obama carried Nevada by a 7-point margin in 2012, and a 13-point margin four years earlier.
On the Democratic side, former Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto has backing from Reid and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Last month, Democratic Rep. Dina Titus announced she would not seek the seat .
Reid: Unimportant Who Faces Cortez-Masto in Nevada Senate Race
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