In a surprise announcement, U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval submitted his resignation from the federal bench Friday, giving up a lifetime appointment for what many expect to be a run for governor.
Sandoval issued a brief statement through Chief Judge Roger Hunt, saying it’s “been a privilege and an honor to serve.”
He offered no reason for his resignation, which becomes effective Sept. 15, and did not return calls for comment.
Hunt said it would be inappropriate for Sandoval to comment on his departure or future political aspirations while he’s still serving as a judge.
But many expect Sandoval, who left a promising political career when he was appointed in 2005, to make a run for governor, to enter an already crowded field of Republicans seeking to oust Gov. Jim Gibbons in next year’s primary election.
And for a Republican Party suffering from repeated scandals and electoral defeats, Sandoval’s potential return to politics was exciting news.
“When he went to become a federal judge, I was quoted as saying he’s the total package,” said Republican strategist Ryan Erwin. “He has the ability to raise money. He’s articulate. He’s smart. He’s ethically sound. He is the complete package.”
Sandoval was midway through his first term as attorney general when he was nominated to the bench by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. He also served two terms in the Assembly and is former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission.
This should add to the already exciting bumper car race that is the GOP Gubernatorial Primary. With Mike Montandon, Joe Heck, and Bobby Beers already nipping at The LuvGuv's heels, Sandoval can only further split the anti-Gibbons GOP vote. And hopefully, this can give our favorite disgraced Republican just a little more of a chance of surviving the primary so he can lose to Rory Reid or Barbara Buckley next year. (And for the record, I haven't yet endorsed either Reid, Jr., or Buckley for Governor.)
Am I being a little too hopeful? Perhaps, especially since Sandoval does have some real appeal. Maybe he'll even be the next Kenny Guinn? But nonetheless, so many candidates jumping in to challenge Gibbons in the GOP Primary will ultimately spilt that anti-Gibbons vote. It may ironically give him a fighting chance to survive a few more months... Until he loses to a Democrat. ;-)