Danny Tarkanian, son of former Runnin’ Rebels coach Jerry Tarkanian, discusses his political ambitions and public perception
The Rebel Yell: How would you describe yourself?
Danny Tarkanian: I’m a very competitive individual. I take pride in how hard I work. I enjoy challenges that I get satisfaction out of doing well in. I am a family guy. There is nothing more important to me than my family. I have three girls: Louise who is six, twins Eva and Ashley, and my first son is due in December and we are going to name him Jerry. Family names are very important to me. It honors my mother and my father.
I also have an amazing wife. I have a lot of loyalty to both my city and my state. I have a lot of pride in being from Nevada and from being a Rebel.
RY: Looking back on your time at UNLV, what was the most memorable experience for you?
DT: It would definitely be when we came in first in the nation in basketball.
RY: How do you feel UNLV has contributed toward the person you are today?
DT: Professors and the people that surround you when it is in high school or college influence you. Lifelong friends that I made in college still influence the business decisions that I make today. My professional decisions are shaped by what I learned while I was there.
RY. You ran for secretary of state in 2006, but your campaign did not have the best results. Did you have any second thoughts about entering another race?
DT: Running for the US Senate is a tougher race than running for the secretary of state. It is a greater victory. I ran against a great component in 2006 and I’m ready for another good race. I ran in a very tough year for a Republican to win. I lost because of the negative TV ads that ran. Because of that, I won a defamation lawsuit, which proves to my peers that everything that was said was false, so I believe I am the best man to run against [Sen. Harry] Reid. Reid is very unpopular in Nevada right now. Most polls show that Nevadans want him removed. I saw an opening to remove him and I took it. I’m not afraid to be called names or to be called out. You need someone who’s not afraid of him. He doesn’t scare me. I’m not afraid to be personally attacked. I have already been there. My family has already been attacked. My father, my mother and myself have all been attacked. I’m used to it. I appeal to the Republicans, the soft Democrats and the undecided.
RY: What skills or qualities do you believe you can bring to the Senate that Sen. Reid cannot?
DT: The most important I believe is you need someone who will fight for and defend the most important issues in Nevada. I have shown them that I am the person to do that. Sen. Reid has ignored what Nevada wants and is using his position to climb up the political ladder. I am a good uniter. The public really wants someone with courage to fight for Nevada’s interests in Washington. I’m not trying to move up the political ladder. My goal is not to move. I will not use my power and influence to move up the ladder and ignore the needs of those who elected me. I will fight and defend Nevada always.
RY: In a recent Mason-Dixon poll of 400 Nevadans, voters preferred you to Senator Reid by 11 percentage points. What do you make of that assessment, and how accurate do you think it is?
DT: I think it is very accurate. I don’t expect it to stay that way. Harry Reid has a lot of money and ties because of his current position. That makes him very hard to beat. A lot of people are upset with how he has been handling health care and they want someone who will fight him tooth and nail.
RY: Senator Reid obviously has many assets in this campaign, including the backing of a popular president. How do you plan to get your message across without equal resources?
DT: In Nevada you can get your message across a lot cheaper than you could in another state. It is also easier to get your point across face-to-face. I plan on being out as much as possible. I know Harry Reid has $25 million set aside to campaign. I don’t need that much.
RY: Some have criticized you, citing your father’s reputation as the reason you’ve recieved recognition as a contender for the Senate. How do you take those remarks?
DT: I believe that the name recognition of my father and mother has attributed to me being more well known. The things that I have done have also helped people know who I am.
RY: You’re obviously still in the begining stages of the campaign, but there are many people in Nevada who simply don’t know you or aren’t familiar with your politics. How do you plan to change that over the next year?
DT: Being out as much as possible and raise as much money as possible so I can get myself into the media.
RY: Obviously, both Republicans and Democrats in the state have been criticized for refusing to hold health care town hall meetings in person. Why did you decide to hold one and how do you feel about those who’ve opted to hold telephone meetings?
DT: I think it’s a joke. Trying to manage what people are asking you on the phone is a joke. People do it because they are afraid of the tough questions and over the phone they don’t have to answer those ones.