Brian Sandoval Biography

Lawyer, Judge, U.S. Governor (1963–)
Republican Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval is the first Hispanic to hold statewide office, as well as the youngest chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission.


Brian Sandoval was born on August 5, 1963, in Redding, California. Of Latino ancestry and Mexican roots, he became the first Hispanic in Nevada to hold statewide office. Sandoval served on the Nevada Assembly and its Gaming Commission. He then served as a United States District Court judge and the Nevada attorney general before he went on to become the state's governor in 2010.

Early Life

Republican Nevada Gov. Brian Edward Sandoval was born in Redding, California, on August 5, 1963. The long-time Reno, Nevada, resident is of Latino ancestry with Mexican roots. He earned his bachelor's degree in English and economics in 1986 from the University of Nevada and then earned a law degree from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 1989. He opened his own law firm in Reno a decade later.

Judicial and Political Career

Prior to opening his own law firm, Sandoval ran for a seat on the Nevada Assembly in 1994. He won the seat and won re-election in 1996, but resigned two years later, when then-Governor Bob Miller appointed him to serve as a member of the Nevada Gaming Commission, which oversees the state's gaming industry. The next year, in 1999, Sandoval became chairman of the commission: At age 35, he was the youngest person ever to serve as chairman of the commission. During his time on the commission, Sandoval fought national efforts to block gambling on college sports events, among other efforts.

Sandoval ran for the Nevada Attorney General seat in November 2002. He won the election, defeating Democrat challenger John Hunt, and took office in January 2003. While in office, Sandoval sponsored legislation strengthening Nevada's laws against drug abuse, domestic violence and human trafficking. He also developed the state's first Public Integrity Unit.

In 2004, Democratic U.S. Senator Harry Reid recommended to then-President George W. Bush that Sandoval be nominated for the United States District Court for the District of Nevada. By the fall of 2005, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Sandoval (89-0, with 11 senators not voting), who then received his judicial commission. Sandoval resigned from that position on September 15, 2009—the same day he announced that he was running for the governorship of Nevada.

Sandoval won the 2010 gubernatorial election, in which he faced challenger Democratic Rory Reid, chair of the Clark County Commission and son of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Sandoval won every county in the state with a majority, with the exception of Clark County. The election victory made Sandoval the first Hispanic candidate elected to statewide office in Nevada.

In 2012, Sandoval was rumored to be on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's list of vice-presidential possibilities. In June 2012, CNN published an article taking a close look at how Romney could court the Latino vote. In addition to studying the possibility of Romney choosing New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, CNN examined Sandoval's chances. "Sandoval is a budget-cutting, government-shrinking Republican," CNN wrote, "but he favors abortion rights, which could be a drawback as a GOP running mate. And though he's Latino, he doesn't speak Spanish."

But Sandoval said he would not want to be considered as a vice-presidential nominee, stating that he had "the best job in the country," according to the Las Vegas Sun. In its own explanation of why Sandoval wasn't really in the running, the Las Vegas Sun wrote, "First is that he's simply not charismatic and would have an incredibly hard time commanding respect, not to mention being totally unable to sell a warped idealogical agenda to America." The April 2012 article went on to say that Sandoval would do more harm than good, if he were ever elected as vice president.

Despite rumors regarding Sandoval's potential vice-presidential nomination, Romney announced U.S. Republican Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate for vice president in August 2012.

Personal Life

Sandoval is married to Kathleen Sandoval, a native Nevadan, and together they have three children.

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