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Amodei won’t run for governor in 2022

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., announced Monday that he will not seek his party’s nomination for governor in 2022, opting instead to run for re-election to his House seat.

The congressman announced the news in a one-sentence release sent shortly before 6 a.m. Nevada time, 9 a.m. in Washington, D.C.

In an interview Monday, Amodei said he would have had to campaign full-time if he’d decided to get into the race, and that meant resigning now and forcing a special election to be called to select his replacement. That wouldn’t have shown respect for his current office, Amodei said.

“This (running for re-election) seems to be the more responsible way to go,” he said.

Amodei, 63, had declared in December that he was considering a bid for governor, saying that incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak “…in some ways has made himself vulnerable to re-election.”

“It’s something where quite frankly we’re gonna look at it,” Amodei said when asked about a possible bid during a Vegas Chamber virtual event. But he added that there would likely be a crowded Republican primary to consider.

In that, the veteran congressman was right. Thus far, the primary field includes former U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, businessman Guy Nohra and Reno attorney Joey Gilbert.

“The door’s wide open for all comers, which is obvious because just about all have come,” Amodei quipped on Monday. He said he could have competed effectively in the primary had he decided to get in, although many of the major candidates are from the more populous Southern Nevada. (To be sure, the only current Republican statewide elected official — Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske — won her seat while losing Clark County by 50,000 votes but winning every other county in Nevada.)

By staying out of the race, Amodei opted for the politically safer course, continuing to represent the 2nd District seat he’s held since 2011. The district encompasses nearly all of Northern Nevada, including Washoe County, Carson City and rural Republican strongholds such as Elko.

In deciding to skip the race, Amodei also avoids questions about his loyalty to former President Donald Trump. In September 2019, Amodei said he supported an investigation to see if rules were broken during a Trump phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Although Amodei did not say he supported the subsequent impeachment of the president, as a result of his comments, he was not asked in 2020 to reprise his 2016 role as Trump campaign co-chairman in Nevada. (Amodei voted against both attempts to impeach Trump.)

Amodei said his relationship with the former president was good, and that he and Trump have since discussed his comments about the Zelenskiy investigation. On policy, Amodei said, he voted with Trump nearly all of the time. “There were no chinks in that armor,” Amodei said.

The congressman disclosed in 2021 that he’d had surgeries to treat cancer on his kidneys and esophagus, but said he was healthy thereafter.

Amodei began his political career in the Nevada Assembly, and was quickly elected to the state Senate, representing Carson City, where he served for a decade between 1999 and 2010, including as president pro tem. He was first elected to Congress in a special election in 2011, after then-Congressman Dean Heller was appointed to replace former Sen. John Ensign, who resigned from office after an extramarital affair.

Amodei — the lone Republican in Nevada’s congressional delegation — is known for a sardonic wit and for being a pragmatic conservative in the House. He’s also famous for delivering the shortest speeches to the biennial sessions of the Nevada Legislature. He currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee and is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno and the McGeorge School of Law in California.

If re-elected, Amodei could be in line for a subcommittee chairmanship on the Appropriations Committee, which the congressman said would be “good for Nevada.”

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.

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