Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval took himself out of consideration Thursday for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, a day after his name surfaced in speculation to fill the vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia.
“Earlier today, I notified the White House that I do not wish to be considered at this time,” Sandoval said in a brief statement issued in Carson City, Nevada’s capital, adding, “The notion of being considered for a seat on the highest court in the land is beyond humbling and I am incredibly grateful to have been recommended.”
Sandoval, who is serving his second and final term as Nevada governor, was an intriguing possibility for the court, in good part because of the politics that would surround his selection, especially in light of GOP lawmakers’ vow to block any nominee until after the presidential election.
He is a Republican, which could have placed GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill in the position of opposing one of their own and a prominent Latino, as well, at a time the party is already suffering from a poor image within that fast-growing segment of the electorate.
Moreover, Sandoval has broken with the party’s conservative orthodoxy on a number of issues, taking moderate stands on taxes, abortion, healthcare and same-sex marriage.
At the same time, several Democrats and party interest groups rose up in opposition after the Washington Post reported Wednesday that Sandoval was under consideration for the seat that opened when Scalia died Feb. 13.
Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, weighed in earlier Thursday at a campaign stop in South Carolina, saying Sandoval “had done some good things as governor.”
“But,” she went on, “I sure hope the president chooses a true progressive.”
At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest declined to say whether Sandoval had been under consideration for nomination to the high court. “The list is not final,” he told reporters. “The work is ongoing.”
Sandoval, 52, is long believed to harbor interest in someday serving on the Supreme Court. He stepped down from a lifetime appointment to the federal bench to run for governor in 2010. The candidate he defeated, Rory Reid, is the son of Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader who, despite their political differences, has a strong relationship with Sandoval.