When Las Vegas businessman Jared Fisher announced his plan to run for governor last year, he did so by riding his bike across the state. Since then, the political outsider has faced an uphill battle to gain traction ahead of next month's Republican Primary.
KUNR's Paul Boger sat down with Fisher to talk about why he wants to run for the state's top job.
Why don't you tell us about yourself and why you want to be governor?
Well, I am a nearly 28 year resident here in Nevada and I'm a business owner from the private sector. I started my company at UNLV in 1992. Our company employs about 50 people here in Nevada and we have extended our company throughout the Southwestern U.S., and so where I'm at in my career it's about that time for me to give back to my state. I've found where I can serve my state best is in an executive role here in Nevada, hence governor.
What are the issues here at this point that you see here as most important to the state?
No surprise, education is one of the major issues that we face. Our kids need to have that opportunity to excel in life. Our K-12 program is far from satisfactory. If I'm looking at Nevada from 30,000 feet and I see that we've got a state that's ranked, historically, at the bottom of the list, I would reconsider moving my company here.
So what do you do to improve education?
Well, there's a lot of different steps. I've got a 9-point plan that's on my website, but number one, we've got to tear down the Nevada plan which is 51 years old. We’re putting Band-Aids on a plan that, in its day, may have served well - I understand the funding concept behind it - but it's 51-years-old. We can't keep adding to this plan every year doing something different to it. What we need to do is take it down and figure out how to refund our schooling. We need to make our schools more efficient.
One of the programs that I have, that I would like to implement if I'm elected, is called the SWEEP program. It stands for the Statewide Executive Efficiency Program. Essentially, it goes to all the state agencies that are funded by the state and it looks at the efficiencies and inefficiencies in those areas. What we would do is find out where we have excess, where we're doing two jobs that can be due by one job, or trimming the fat and finding the ways that we can be more efficient. The number one way to cut costs and reduce debt is to be more efficient. That we are not in government, so enough's enough. As a business man I wouldn't let that happen in my business and as a governor I wouldn't let that happen in Carson City.
With your candidacy, and as a Republican candidate in general, you are going to need to rely on the rural counties to counter Clark County. A lot of rural counties start getting nervous when you say you're going to get rid of the Nevada plan. So, I'm just curious what you plan to do there?
I didn't say we're going to defund the rurals, I just said we're going to redo the Nevada plan. Maybe some of that fat is going to be trimmed out of Clark County. I can tell you right now I don't know where 1,400 people are working efficiently in the Clark County School District Administration Building. I can't figure that out. I've been down there, I've looked at it, and I can tell you right now that we can trim a lot of fat out of there.
If you become governor, you’re going to very likely have to work with a democratic legislature. What do you think you can do as a conservative Republican to either work with lawmakers or counter in agenda you may not agree with?
I think that's one of the things I do bring to the table. My wife has started a group called Save Red Rock down south. We have 50,000 members and we have shown that it's bipartisan. So, we've grown a lot of democratic friendships down there. I know that we bring a lot of people to the table.
As far as bringing things to Carson City, I'm going to lay down the principles and we're going to work off of those principles and that's the way I'll do it. That's the way I do it currently right now in business and that's the way I'll do it in Carson City.
There was a significant tax increase in Southern Nevada, the room tax for the new Raiders stadium. Where do you fall on that?
You know, if I were to ever call a special session and the word education wasn't on the top of the list, I would be doing the wrong thing. In this state when education is our number one thing for the future, for not only our kids but our business growth and our economy, we better be talking about that. The Raiders are great and nice and we need a professional team. Had I known the Golden Knights or just going to a rail it so well we may not have needed that Raider stadium.
As far as the Raiders go, it's going to cost us a billion dollars. It's beyond the number that they said. It's going to cost us a lot of money and I'm not comfortable with that. I probably wouldn't have called a special session for the Raiders stadium but now that we're in there it's hard to take the candy from the kid. So, we're going to move forward. We're not going to stop the building roads to go to the stadium. That would not be the right thing to do in my opinion. We’re going to support the raiders but we're going to work our way through this and we're going to find ways that the Raiders can contribute back to our state because we're giving them a lot.
In that same vein, Nevada was hit hardest during the recession how do you work as governor to work to diversify Nevada’s economy?
Well I tell you one thing, you have to build a business-friendly environment you have to have reasons for businesses to come here. You can't plop high taxes in front of businesses. As the number one thing, when taxes go up you get less of something. So, the idea behind raising taxes is not a good idea. The Commerce Tax, my personal opinion is that we didn't need to do that. What we should have done is started looking at our efficiencies in government and ways to cut. But we need to diversify this economy even more ways than Sandoval has been doing. I think he’s done a good job bringing businesses here and I commend him on that. Now, were all those negotiated well? That's why we need a business guy in government, because when business men talk about negotiations we know how to do it well. That's what we do for a living. We need to bring companies here, but we need to be smart about how we negotiate with them. That is the key to our future. I think that's what I can do best for our state is bring economic development here.
We can't just do tourism, we've got to get into other industries, but we have to make sure that we can afford to do that. We have to make sure that we have the resources to do that.
Would you repeal the Commerce tax?
Before, I thought I would. Honestly, the one thing I would like to do is turn that from a gross sales to a net sales and make it realistic. I mean, hitting a business with gross sales is not the right thing to do. I would look at doing something like that with the commerce tax.
I want to talk to you about gun control. Where do you stand and what role does the state in advancing gun control?
I like to use the term gun rights, if I may. I don't think we should control the guns so to speak I think what we need to do as a state is... 1I believe in is we should support the 2nd amendment. I've told people this a million times, I can go to home depot and with $18 I can build a potato but a garden and I can walk into a school and kill anybody I want. So, it's not the guns as it is the people. That's when we start talking about mental health and we start talking about the people who are actually doing these things.
Do we need to have gun free zones and those types of things? We need to look at those issues. I think we're raising money and we're wasting time when we're talking about restricting people's ability or right to have a gun. I've told people that I won't sign into law new legislation restricting our 2nd amendment rights. I have kids in school and I care very much about every kid in school and if we can currently Of those laws that we currently have and we follow through with those laws that we have will have a safer state. That's what we need to do.
What about background checks?
Well, there comes a point where we need to follow through with what we currently have. Our last initiative that we had on background checks, that needs to be revisited. The Attorney General basically walked away from that and I don't think that was the right thing to do. I think I would have a responsibility as governor to make sure that can or cannot be enforced properly. I think we owe that to the people of this state and I don't care if it's 50.001 to 49.999. The people voted on it and my responsibility as governor to follow through on that.
You are not a politician. You're businessman like you've told me. Why get into this race?
Yeah? Why would I?
I've had a lot of people ask me that because I come from a business That is all about taking people out into the great outdoors and having a good time with big smiles on their face. So people ask why would you want to go into something where they hate you? That's a legitimate question, but I feel I have a responsibility to my state at this point. You know what? I came here for a great education at UNLV, best school in the country for hotel management. I raised my kids here, they're doing great. I'm living off of the bounty of Nevada and it's my time to give back to this state. Like I said earlier, the role that I feel I can best contribute is in the executive position. So, yeah. I'm all for it. I love challenges. I love going out and teaching my mountain bike 100 miles. So, I have no problem getting hit with some punches. I'm all for it.
According to polling done by the Nevada Independent and you are way behind in the polls behind Adam Laxalt. Is that discouraging to you?
No. No, because Ralston’s known about our run for governor for a long time and he consistently tries to keep me out of that paper. So I've been out working the streets, knocking on doors. I have a legitimate amount of money in this too. I'm not just some guy off the street saying I want to run for governor. I've invested a lot in this. We have a team up north we have a team down south. We have paid staff. We have lots of volunteers. Were in this. I know his polling didn't poll my customers so to speak, and if we're talking business terms, I've been talking the 18 to 45 year old crowd and that was it reflected in his polls. I think the poll was bunk.
How do you go about attracting more voters? What is the plan at this point?
Well, most importantly, without divulging all of my trade secrets on radio, I have a plan and I have been working my plan. I'm a successful business guy, I know what I need to do to win this. It may not be enough at the end of the day, but it's not because I didn't try and work at it.
At the end of the day why should voters elect you?
Well, I'm not a politician. I know people are sick of politicians. You know, love or hate President Trump, he's outside the box. He’s making changes and it's scaring a lot of people who had things set in stone in the way politics were going in Washington. He disrupted that place. We cannot keep doing the same thing. I'm not a politician. I'm a successful business guy and I have a track record to show it.