Craddock hits road in Senate bid |

Craddock hits road in Senate bid

Jay Craddock, left, and son, Jeremy, were in Gardnerville Thursday as part of their U.S. Senate campaign tour of Nevada.
Dave Price |

Jay G. Craddock is taking a page from Forrest Gump and going the extra mile in his run for the U.S. Senate in 2018.

Craddock, a Democrat from Las Vegas, has taken his bid to unseat Dean Heller out on the road on a 630-mile tour of Nevada that is expected to span more than four months. He is following a north-to-south route from McDermitt, located on the Nevada-Oregon border to Laughlin, at the southern tip of Nevada.

Craddock was 230 miles into the tour near Austin when he visited Carson Valley — riding in a large red, white, blue and gold RV — to discuss his campaign. He spoke Thursday night and again Saturday morning at the Douglas County Democrats’ headquarters in Gardnerville, then drove back to Austin Saturday evening and made an appearance in Wendover Sunday.

“I’ve been walking 10 miles a day except for Sundays,” he said. “I did 14.8 (miles) one day when I went into the mountains near Austin. I was up at about 10,000 feet because I walked up to the cell towers over the top of that mountain and then down through Birch Creek Canyon, which is gorgeous.”

Craddock said his “Taking Steps for Change Across Nevada” tour is scheduled to reach Laughlin sometime in mid-July.

The purpose of the walk, which he says was patterned after what Max Baucus did in Montana (U.S. Senate from 1978-2014 and representative 1975-78), is to meet people and to better understand the entire state.

“I want to meet people and hear their stories about what their lives are like,” he said. “I’ve heard some great ideas that nobody has heard.”

Craddock graduated from Eldorado High School in Las Vegas and attended Columbia University in New York City, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history, humanities and civilization, in addition to playing football and wrestling.

After his graduation from Columbia, Craddock returned to Nevada and tried his hand at some different ventures, including a short time working as a miner nearby in the Topaz Lake area.

“It was a tiny little mine that was like an experiment we tried to work out as a family for one summer,” he said, adding with a laugh, “We got enough gold to probably fill a tooth.”

Craddock eventually worked 26-plus years as a paramedic and achieved the rank of captain for the North Las Vegas Fire Department. In the meantime, he also earned a master’s degree in public administration from UNLV.

“I’m not a politician,” Craddock said. “They study how to get elected and how to get re-elected. I look at it from a public administration standpoint. I look at government for efficiencies and how to make things run smoothly, correctly and work well.”

This is Craddock’s first attempt to seek political office at any level. He said he believes that it is important for “ordinary people to get involved” with their government.

“The closest thing to political office that I have held was president of my homeowner’s association, which is a tough job, too,” he said.

There is experience with political life, though, since his father, Robert Craddock, served in the Nevada State Legislature from 1972-88.

“My father was in the state Legislature when I was growing up, so I have the thick skin of a legislator,” he said. “Whether or not you know it, the children of politicians also catch the fury from people as well. You get phone calls, you get jeered and whatnot.”

Whether on foot or riding in that RV, Craddock is enjoying the ride.

“I can’t think of a bigger loudspeaker than that,” he said, laughing when asked about the RV. “People love that thing. Some of them stop me on the road waving and going, ‘What are you running for?’ I tell them, ‘Well, it’s written right on the side.’”