Republican Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt says she'll run for governor in 2006, striving to be Nevada's first female governor.
Hunt, 65, said she believes her background as a business owner, a former Clark County commissioner and a member of the governor's cabinet gives her the right resume for the top job.
"I just decided that I am planning to do it," Hunt said Wednesday. "I'm going to run in 2006, God willing. I can do the job and the more I think about it, the more I know I want to do it."
Hunt, a one-time lounge singer elected twice as lieutenant governor, said she believes she could win support in northern and rural Nevada and do well in the Las Vegas area, where she is known politically and still owns a restaurant.
"I'm an independent thinker," Hunt said. "I think I'll be able to win support among Democrats and Republicans as I have in the past."
As lieutenant governor, Hunt chairs Nevada's economic development and tourism efforts, sits on the Nevada Department of Transportation board and serves as the president pro tem of the state Senate, a largely parliamentary role.
She would face a potential Republican primary in 2006 with Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., considered a top-tier candidate to replace Kenny Guinn who is term-limited. But Hunt said no candidate, and no potential primary, will keep her away.
"I think Jim is a wonderful person and a great congressman," Hunt said. "If we're both in a primary together, maybe it'll be the first time in Nevada politics where there'd be a good clean race."
Gibbons said he's focused on getting re-elected to Congress this year, adding, "Any decisions about future elections will be made at the appropriate time."
The governor's race in 2006 also could feature three powerful Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus is likely to run, and Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins and Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson are considering bids for the job.
"I think there's going to be a number of candidates as well as people who will surprise the socks off of us who decide to run," Hunt said. "It'll be a wild West, typical Nevada election."