Dawn Gibbons eyes run for husband's House seat

RENO - Dawn Gibbons said she will campaign for her husband's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives if he pursues the governor's office as expected.

Her comments Thursday to the Reno Gazette-Journal came a day after Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., said he was forming a steering committee to evaluate a run for Nevada governor in 2006 to succeed Gov. Kenny Guinn.

Dawn Gibbons said she is beginning her campaign early to find out whether Nevada voters want a congresswoman who also is the first lady.

"My plan is to travel all over the state, and my goal is to meet every voter in Congressional District 2. I trust Nevadans, and I think they trust me," she said.

"So I will know by the end of the year if people think it's good for me to do this with my husband running for governor.

"I would be a very effective first lady, but when there are votes in Washington, there are a lot of things I could do in that role, too," she told the newspaper.

Political experts said that Jim Gibbons already is the favorite to win the next gubernatorial election, although he should face more opposition than term-limited incumbent Guinn, who waltzed through both of his elections.

Dawn Gibbons, a Republican from Reno who served three terms in the state Assembly, has a good chance of succeeding her husband in Washington, although her chance might not be as good as her husband's, political observers said.

"All of the factors suggest that, yes, we may have a very powerful and visible couple holding high offices within two years," said Fred Lokken, a registered Republican and a political science professor at Truckee Meadows Community College.

"If Jim Gibbons has earmarked his wife to be his successor, and he has made that clear to the Republican Party, it's hard to believe that anyone would oppose that."

Others said many Nevada voters would feel uncomfortable with a husband and wife team holding two of the state's most powerful public offices.

"Other Republicans aren't necessarily going to get out of the way for Dawn," said Eric Herzik, a registered Republican and a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.

"She is very smart in getting out there first and at full speed," Herzik said. "But I don't think it will set well with some folks when you have this husband and wife team, one in Washington and one in Carson City. To a lot of people it doesn't sound right."

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