Bob Beers, current Las Vegas City Council member, former state senator, erstwhile gubernatorial candidate and well-known face in Nevada politics, says he feels a “call to duty” to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his seat in 2016.
About all it took to get Beers into the race was a nudge from a group that wants Reid, a Democrat, denied a sixth term as senator.
Beers said sure – provided they could come up with enough money to fund an opening mailer alerting potential voters to his plans.
“I have to confess a call to duty, to try to save America from these guys back there,” Beers said in a phone interview this week. “And that’s got a lot to do with it.”
“I didn’t think they’d do it,” Beers says of the people who encouraged him to run. “I didn’t think there was any appetite out there in the world to do it. I just didn’t think there was that much support or interest, so I pretty much dismissed it, until it suddenly happened.”
Still, Beers does not appear to be in a major rush to mount an operation to defeat the potential juggernaut that is a Reid campaign.
Beers said he’s planning “a nights and weekends campaign” over the next year or so to keep it from interfering with his council duties. Beers represents Ward 2.
There’s also the matter of money — in 2010, Reid ran a $30 million campaign to best Sharron Angle.
“I fully anticipate having a well-funded campaign that can compete,” Beers says, dismissing the importance of a traditional and expensive media advertising strategy because “the media is far less significant in these races than they used to be.”
“Personal dynamics are more important,” Beers says.
Beers’ focus on the grass-roots elements of campaigning is one born of hard experience. In 2006, he mounted a campaign to become governor, rising from fifth in the field of Republican candidates to second, before eventually losing to Jim Gibbons.
When asked what his takeaway lesson of that experience is, he says: “That I need to meet more people … it tells me that I didn’t meet enough Nevadans.”
Beers has two factors on his side — time (the election isn’t until November 2016) and an open field. None of the rumored Republican contenders for the Senate in 2016, such as Gov. Brian Sandoval, have thrown their hat in the ring.
Beers isn’t yet offering a platform.
“This is not about me … my record is my record,” Beers said. “If Nevada believes that we’re not being represented, then perhaps they will send me instead.”
Pressed for an issue, he pauses. “There are a number of different components, but much of it is based on the way that they’ve handled the economy and the board of the Federal Reserve,” Beers said. “I’m very deeply concerned, and with every added $100 million of debt, world economic power houses get that much stronger. And I think that it’s damaging to our position in the world.”
Beers is trained as an accountant, a background that gives him familiarity with financial issues. The debt and the role of the Federal Reserve were issues that arose during the 2012 primary election season as Republican presidential candidates hashed out their preferred approaches to fixing the problem. Beers declined to say which, if any, of the field of Republicans candidates he had supported during the 2012 caucuses, though he promised he had voted.
For now, the most notable thing about Beers’ campaign is how little he’s breaking a sweat.
“I’ve fought uphill races before. I’ve won races and lost races, and throughout my 10 years I maintained that I did have other skills — which I was able to prove in 2008,” Beers said, referencing the year he lost his state Senate seat.
Plus he has a job already.
“I think my constituents in my City Council ward appear to be pretty happy with the way I’m doing the job,” Beers said. “If it ends up I lose, I’ll be asking them six months later to let me keep representing them.”
But despite the almost overwhelming tones of pragmatism, Beers is indulging at least one dream of victory — one that seems appropriate for a politician, whose races were supposed to have been behind him, taking on the Senate majority leader whose political style was informed by his boxing skills.
How does he hope he’ll be perceived? “Rocky Balboa, 20 minutes into the movie,” Beers said.