Sisolak, 63, becomes the first major politician to jump into the race to replace term-limited Gov. Brian Sandoval in next year’s election. And he brings with him a hefty war chest of campaign funds totaling about $3.8 million.
“I’m really excited about it,” Sisolak told the Review-Journal.
“We’ve put a lot of time into this, researching and doing my due diligence. I think I can make an impact on the future of the state of Nevada.”
Sisolak has served on the Clark County Commission since 2008, and has been commission chairman since 2013.
He describes himself as a moderate and centrist, who leans fiscally conservative and socially liberal, and said he wants to bring a “common sense approach” to state government.
“I don’t think I’m as partisan as some others might be, or as some might want me to be,” Sisolak said. “I tend to build bridges as opposed to building fences.”
Sisolak knows Southern Nevadan candidates have tended to fair worse in statewide races, and plans to spend much of the next year-and-a-half before the 2018 election talking to the constituents from across the state.
“I want to spend a lot of time listening,” Sisolak said.
As for his priorities, Sisolak said he is committed to bringing more jobs to Nevada to diversify the economy and bettering education.
Sisolak has been eyeing the run dating back to at least November and toyed with a run for governor in 2014.
His public notoriety has increased significantly in recent years, as he was seen as a driving force in bringing Nevada’s first two major professional sports teams — the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team and eventual Las Vegas Raiders — to Las Vegas.
“It’s obviously raised my profile a little bit, but I think I can bring some things to the table as a result of those interactions,” Sisolak said.
Born in Wisconsin in 1953, Sisolak received a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1974. He moved to the town of Spring Valley in Clark County during his early 20s and earned a master’s degree in business administration from UNLV in 1978.
From 1998 through 2008 he was a member of the state Board of Regents, the elected body that governs Nevada’s higher education institutions. In 2008 he resigned from that board after being elected to the commission’s District A seat.
Former Diamond Resorts CEO Steve Cloobeck said earlier this year he plans to run for the Democratic bid and would seed his campaign with $5 million of his own money.
Sisolak’s commission colleague and fellow Democrat Chris Giunchigliani said Thursday that she is “seriously considering” a run for governor, but said “there’s no rush” to make a decision.
On the Republican ticket, Las Vegas bike shop owner Jared Fisher is the only announced candidate.
Like Sisolak, Attorney General Adam Laxalt has for several months been gearing up for a potential gubernatorial run. Laxalt has made no formal announcement about his intentions.