In most walks of life, being labeled as an “up and comer” at age 53 might seem a bit questionable. Fifty-three is, after all, closer to the average age of retirement in the United States than it is to the age one would normally associate with a rising star.
But Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval is bucking that trend, quickly becoming a person to watch in the GOP as his influence continues to augment year after year.
Sandoval’s background is impressive, to say the least.
His start came in 1998 as a member of the Nevada Assembly, where he sponsored 14 bills that later became laws. Sandoval also served as a district judge before running for Governor of Nevada in 2010, which he won, sweeping every county in the state. His 2014 reelection was won with similar ease, winning 90% of the Republican vote in the primary, then 70% in the general election.
Sandoval has been wildly successful in almost everything he’s attempted in the world of politics. When justice Antonin Scalia passed away suddenly earlier this year, Sandoval was floated as a possible replacement in the Supreme Court. This consideration speaks volumes to the likeability of Sandoval as a politician, regardless of what side of the political spectrum one falls on. With his relatively moderate stance and good public standing, many suspected that Sandoval represented the best chance that President Barack Obama had to have his SCOTUS selection confirmed. And while Obama eventually chose Merrick Garland, the consideration of Sandoval from a Democratic president speaks volumes to Sandoval’s likeability and overall success in the positions he’s held.
The consideration for Supreme Court nomination thrust Sandoval into the national spotlight somewhat abruptly. While some politicians fight for their time in the limelight, Sandoval actively avoids it. That strategy has seemingly paid off; he is an almost universally-liked member of the GOP. His 62% approval rating as reported by Morning Consultant was 8th best in the country. When budgetary concerns arose in 2011, he rejected a pay raise and offered to cut back his own salary if necessary.
Sandoval was named as one of seven political “rising stars to watch” in 2016 by NBC. Though he was not, as some anticipated, chosen as the Vice President nominee for the GOP, Sandoval’s potential for political prosperity remains almost limitless.