Below is the prepared text of Rep. Jim Gibbons' announcement speech for governor -- he ad-libbed a little but not much. There will be a quiz tomorrow to see if you remember any line from it. For more sardonic wit and wisdom about the speech, you will have to get Flash
Ladies and gentlemen, friends, fellow Nevadans … thank you for that warm welcome. And thank you Commissioner Lynette Boggs McDonald and Senator John Ensign for your kind words.
I’ve always held Lynette in my highest regard. She continues to be a steady and effective leader for southern Nevada. I am proud to know her, proud of her support and I am most grateful for her friendship.
Senator Ensign and I have had the privilege of working together in Congress for the better part of the last decade. When I first went to Congress, John Ensign was just finishing his freshman term in the House of Representatives. You would have never known it. He was and remains a skilled legislator … an articulate advocate for conservative government … and he is a rising star not only in Nevada politics, but on the national stage, as well.
His first term in the Senate is not even up, yet he is already being considered for a leadership position … But first we must work to re-elect him next November. Senator Ensign … thank you for all you do for Nevada and for our nation.
Many other elected officials are with us today. I appreciate the support of the Republican Mayor of North Las Vegas, Mike Montandon … and I’m proud to have the support of Democratic Mayor of Mesquite, Bill Nicholes.
I’m also fortunate to have the support of Assemblywoman Francis Allen and Senator Warren Hardy. Francis was a valuable member of my congressional staff some time back, and she is doing a great job serving the people of Nevada in our state legislature. Senator Hardy is a longtime friend and advisor. His support is important to me … and I’m honored that some of their colleagues from the legislature are also here … while others will stand with me later today in Northern Nevada.
And how about Jack Kemp? What a great honor to have him here with us today.
Jack Kemp is a true believer in the American dream, and the idea that economic opportunity and success must always be within reach of every American.
He was a star quarterback for the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills … a distinguished member of the House of Representatives … a Cabinet Secretary overseeing the Department of Housing and Urban Development … a Vice Presidential nominee … and to this day, ladies and gentlemen, a true American patriot and leader. Jack, thank you for being with us.
I would also like to thank the volunteers and activists here today. Public participation in government is critical to sustaining a representative democracy … as well as to preserving the trust that must exist between the elected … … and the people who elect them.
Most importantly, however, I want to thank my wife Dawn. For years, Dawn has stood by my side as my wife and my most loyal advisor. Without her, I would not be standing here before you today. I thank her for all she has done to make my life fuller, and for all she has done to make Nevada a better place to live.
I also want to thank our daughter Jennifer … who is here with our son-in-law, Ryan. Ryan officially joined our family in July of this year, and I’m glad the two of them could join us today.
I owe a lot to my family – and I’ll be seeing our two other children and both grandchildren later today at my announcement in Sparks. Like any grandparent, I could talk for hours about how special, smart and amazing my grandchildren are … but I’ll restrain myself. Instead, I’ll note one absolute fact about grandchildren. They give you a generational perspective.
Whenever you look at your children or grandchildren, you cannot help but want to do everything in your power to see that they have a bright, safe and prosperous future.
I am thrilled that my children and grandchildren all live here in Nevada, a place where they can seek … and achieve their dreams.
It was about two centuries ago when pioneers crossed the plains to settle the West. They wanted the opportunity to work hard and keep something for themselves and their families in return. The opportunity to explore, recreate and relish the personal freedom that is so much part of the American West. Today, generations later, people continue coming west … here to Nevada … seeking those very same opportunities. Nevada remains one of the last true beacons of Western freedom and opportunity.
I have been fortunate to have traveled the world. I’ve met a lot of different people living under many different forms of government … and working in many different economic conditions. Nowhere can you find a place like America, where so many different people live in harmony, relishing individual freedom while promoting good communities. And nowhere in America, can you find a place like Nevada, a land rich with an undying spirit of hope and optimism.
I was born and raised in Sparks, Nevada. My father was a union worker who dug ditches for the railroad. Though he never made it past the seventh grade, he taught me the value of hard work … and the importance of receiving a good education.
My mother worked two jobs … one raising our family at home and the other as a local realtor. She taught me the value of public service … of not only providing for yourself and your family … but for your community.
In fact, my first taste of politics came when I was a young teenager, helping my mother campaign for Mayor of Sparks. She didn’t become mayor, but she succeeded in teaching me the importance of being involved in our community. That is the spirit of the Nevada I grew up in.
Nevada is a place where people come to stake their claim to a better tomorrow. We are not perfect, but we trust one another … to do better … to prove that businesses will come … along with jobs and paychecks … if we hold the line on government’s desire to be all things … to all the people.
Nevada’s growth creates as many questions for the future as it does opportunities. But the best way to lead Nevada is to know Nevada … to know and trust the people and their values. People are leaving other states in overwhelming numbers to come here. They want someplace better. That someplace is Nevada.
We can always do better … and we will … by making sure government respects the wishes of those who fund it – the hardworking taxpayers. We must protect the freedoms we enjoy today … to raise a family, start and grow a business, and keep government at arm’s length from our homes and businesses.
Nevadans have a history of electing leaders who have risen to the challenges of their times … Governors who answered a call … focused government on core principles and missions … and maintained a trust with the electorate.
Almost unnoticed in the controversial legislative session of 2003 was Assembly Bill 318 to honor Nevada Governor Emmet Boyle. Emmet Boyle served as governor from 1915 to 1922. He was our youngest elected Governor at age 35, our first native-born Governor, born in Gold Hill, Nevada, and the first Nevada Governor to have graduated from our state’s university system. Emmet Boyle faced enormous challenges … but he had the right background, experiences and forward-thinking ideas to address Nevada’s problems. As a former state engineer, he reconstructed our water laws. As a former member of the Tax Commission, he revised Nevada’s tax statutes and modernized our state’s budget process. In 1920, Governor Boyle called a special session of his own … to ratify the 19th Amendment to our United States Constitution, which granted women the right to vote.
Nearly half a century later, another Governor helped direct the spirit of the people of this state to make Nevada better. Paul Laxalt successfully led the effort to create our community college system and a state medical school. He worked with then-California Governor Ronald Reagan to protect one of America’s greatest treasures: Lake Tahoe. And, Paul Laxalt successfully led the effort to open Nevada’s gaming industry – our largest economic engine and the state’s premium employer – to corporate licensing. This move allowed for public investment in our state’s number one industry, which in turn ignited its growth and turned Nevada into a marquee attraction for the world.
The late Mike O’Callaghan was truly a man of faith … a man of family … and a man of the people. He was a decorated veteran, a teacher, and a proud leader of the people of Nevada. Governor O’Callaghan lived and led as an optimist. He worked to see that all Nevadans, no matter their race, religion, or economic circumstance, had open access to their government.
Each of these Governors faced the tremendous burden of leading a state that was growing and changing rapidly. They were all Governors of consequence … as is Nevada’s current Governor … Kenny Guinn. Governor Guinn has led efforts to improve educational opportunities for Nevada’s children through the Millennium Scholarship Program. He created the first of its kind Senior RX program to increase access to affordable prescription drugs for Nevada’s low-income seniors. And most recently, while some called his plan “dead on arrival” … he worked to return government surplus dollars to the taxpayers of Nevada. I applaud Kenny Guinn for these accomplishments.
Each of these governors and many others throughout our history faced challenges and opportunities. The next Governor of Nevada will face challenges as well.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I took my first job at 13 years of age, and I’ve worked hard ever since. I am a proud graduate of Sparks High School and the University of Nevada. I am extremely fortunate and privileged to have served my country … and my state … in uniform. I have worked in the private sector as a miner and commercial airline pilot, and in the public sector as an elected official. Three times, Nevadans elected me to represent them in our State Legislature. Five times, you have elected me to serve Nevada in Congress … and for that, I am forever grateful.
Today begins the next stage of that journey. Today, I announce my candidacy to become the next Governor of the State of Nevada.
I pledge to you my faith in our great state … and in you … the very people who give Nevada character, energy and an identity. I confront the many challenges facing Nevada with deep respect of our state’s history and with the immeasurable faith I have in the people of this state.
We go forward together – working to keep Nevada the finest place this country has to offer to live, to work, and to raise a family. Our campaign will focus on preserving Nevada’s vast opportunities. We will maintain it for those enjoying it here today, and we will preserve it for future generations.
How will we do it?
We will do it by placing Education First … not just through our rhetoric … but through our actions. We will do this first by passing the Education First Initiative in 2006 so it becomes part of our state’s Constitution. We--the people of this state--hold education as our top priority; it is time our government does the same.
Next, we must improve our K through 12 public schools. Far too many of our public schools currently are failing our students. And when we fail our students, we fail our state’s very future. We can and must do better.
The good news is that there are schools in every region of Nevada that are succeeding. We need to look at those success stories as well when we look for solutions. One start in that direction is paying good teacher more.
If we strengthen our K through 12 schools, we also will be strengthening higher education in Nevada. Our kids should enter college ready to tackle freshman-level course work.
My administration will work closely with our regents, our university presidents and our chancellor to make our institutions of higher learning places we can all be proud of. Working together, we can build a higher education system that will attract the best and brightest minds from home and abroad, and compare favorably with any other state’s university system.
Finally, we will provide more vocational education opportunities in Nevada. Whether it is in the construction industry, computer technology, health care, you name it … we have to provide opportunities for those seeking something other than an associates or bachelors degree.
As your Governor, I will work to address the demands that our growth has placed on our infrastructure, and the demands placed on us to access our most precious natural resource … water. I will reach out to our neighboring governors, particularly those who share allocations from the Colorado River, and make sure Nevada maintains its fair allotment.
We will continue to grow, but we will do so in a way that preserves our environment, wildlife habitat and natural resources.
I will also work to ensure that our veterans and seniors have the services they have earned and that Nevada’s most vulnerable citizens have a viable health care system. While in Congress, I have worked hard on a federal level to protect our seniors and our veterans. As your governor, I will continue those efforts on a state level.
While we work to protect our civil liberties and human rights, we will deal forcefully with those who break the law, especially those who prey on our children. Currently, on the federal level, I am working on legislation that does just that by closing many of the loopholes exploited by convicted sex offenders to hide from the law around the country. I applaud the leadership of Senator Dina Titus, who worked this past legislative session to strengthen Nevada’s laws against sex offenders who seek to do our children harm. I think she would agree that we can and must do more.
Above all, ladies and gentlemen, we will protect and defend the rights of the individual. One of the first pieces of legislation I plan to submit to the legislature will restrict state and local governments from seizing property from one person for the benefit and private use of another. The recent United States Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain struck at the very heart of every private property owner throughout Nevada … and across this country. We will take action to protect your property before any government entity exercises its newly-given power to take it away.
The challenges we face are difficult, but certainly not insurmountable.
In many cases, we are on the right path … but that can-do attitude in each of us demands that we do more. We are Nevadans … honoring those who settled here before us, building a better life today, and working to preserve the opportunity and freedom for the generations who follow.
Each one of you wants to build a better tomorrow for our children. Each one of you wants to improve education in Nevada. Each one of you wants to ensure that our seniors and our veterans are taken care of. Each one of you wants to enhance job opportunities for Nevadans. Each one of you wants to keep our taxes low and our businesses thriving.
JOIN ME in meeting today’s challenges and building a better tomorrow. Together, we will advance an agenda of promise and hope … an agenda of opportunity … an agenda that enhances the economic freedom and growth we enjoy today.
I look forward to the campaign ahead. I look forward to sharing my vision…our vision…of a bright future with the people of Nevada. And I look forward to earning their support.
Thank you, God Bless America, and God Bless our State of Nevada …