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Nevada's last Democratic Governor: Advice for the next one?

Bill Miller.JPG

Nevada's 26th governor would like to make something clear.

"Well, I'm glad to relinquish the title of being the most recent Democratic governor, and I think Governor Sisolak will do a great job," Bob Miller told News 3 Thursday during a chat at R&R Partners, the city's powerhouse public relations and advertising firm whose head, Billy Vassiliadis, ran Miller’s campaigns back in the day.

Fast forward to Nov. 6, when Democrat Steve Sisolak beat Republican Adam Laxalt by four points.

That's not how Miller first arrived in the governor's office.

His predecessor, Democrat Dick Bryan, resigned to become a U.S. senator.

Miller was the Lieutenant Governor who became governor by succession.

"I recall the very first day that I started I was sitting in the governor's office, and the secretary of state at the time, Frankie Sue Del Papa, came in, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, 'Tag, you're it.' That was the formality of me becoming governor because I was literally an acting governor for two years," Miller said.

Miller would go on to win two elections of his own, serving 10 years from 1989 to 1999: He is Nevada's longest-serving governor.

Nevada's 30th governor takes office Jan. 7. Right around the corner comes the 80th legislature, with fellow Democrats controlling both houses.

The session begins Feb.4.

In Miller's time, "I had a little bit of everything," he says, explaining that five legislative sessions saw both Democratic majorities and Republican majorities.

Miller says both are challenging.

“I like to quote Mark Twain who said the Nevada Legislature, instead of meeting every two years for 60 days, ought to meet every 60 years for two days,” says the former governor. Twain is long gone, and lawmakers now meet for four months every other year.

Miller says Sisolak, the chairman of the Clark County Commission, will be up to the challenge.

“He's had the experience that many others haven’t, including myself, of working with larger groups to reach a consensus, both with the county commission for many years and before that with the university board of regents, and the regents was a statewide group of individuals,” Miller said.

Miller doesn’t presume to tell the incoming governor what to do.

“I don’t like to intrude in the decisions by any of my successors,” he says. However, Miller said he did give Sisolak one piece of advice.

“I told him he should go to the new governors' conference because they give you practical advice there,” he says.

When Miller was in office, he says he would tell newly-elected governors this:

"Make some time for yourself. Let your gut make most of your decisions. Get as much information as you can and then go with what feels right for you."

Good advice from someone who's been Nevada's governor longer than anybody.

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