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Danny Tarkanian hits campaign trail
Danny Tarkanian met with people in Elko Friday at the Sierra Java coffee shop. He is seeking the Republican nomination for secretary of state. (Adella Harding/Elko Daily Free Press)

ELKO - Danny Tarkanian of Las Vegas said his background in law and business would help him with the Nevada secretary of state position he hopes to win.

"The secretary of state does a lot with business laws and new corporations. The secretary of state's office encompasses so much," he said during a visit to Elko Friday to meet with local people.

"I'm driving through the rural cities to introduce myself to different people and the Republican chairs. I'm just trying to get out and meet people," Tarkanian said at the Sierra Java coffee shop.

"The rural vote will be critical to all statewide races," he said.

He is seeking the Republican nomination to replace Secretary of State Dean Heller, who is prohibited from running again because of term limits.

"I've always wanted to be involved in politics. My interests have been in athletics and politics," said the son of former University of Nevada, Las Vegas, basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian and Lois Tarkanian, a Las Vegas councilwoman.

"I grew up in a competitive family. I never shy from competition. You have to take chances and risks," Tarkanian said.

He faces a field of competition for the Republican nomination, with Brian Scroggins and Merle Berman, both of Las Vegas, also announced as candidates for the 2006 primary.

Tarkanian said Valerie Weiner is a possible Democratic candidate for the position.

"It's a statewide office so I would expect a number of people would be interested," he said.

This is his second campaign. At the age of 42, Tarkanian ran in the 2004 elections for the state Senate seat held by Sen. Michael Snyder, D-Las Vegas, and lost by 6.5 percent of the votes.

"Losing the state Senate makes this race really important to me," Tarkanian said.

Along with the business duties, the secretary of state is in charge of elections, and Tarkanian said he would like to see campaign finance laws improved.

He said there should be limits on campaign contributions, early release of the names of contributors and better voting controls.

Tarkanian said he wants to be sure those who want to vote do so, but that people are "coerced or harassed" into voting. "There should be safeguards."

Currently, he and his wife Amy work together at the Tarkanian Basketball Academy and youth sports facility founded by the Tarkanian family in Las Vegas.

He also is vice president of operations for the real estate firm B and Y Properties.

According to his biography, Tarkanian graduated with honors from UNLV and was the school's first Rhodes Scholar candidate.

He attended law school at the University of San Diego, where he receive the highest grade in all courses, including three perfect scores, during his first semester.

Tarkanian graduated magna cum laude and helped his father coach at Fresno State University seven years. He returned to Las Vegas to practice law for eight years. And he formed a company to process software that assists students in preparation for SAT and ACT tests.

He said he has been to Elko in the past and attended the Lincoln Day Dinner in Elko this year. "This really seems like a great town."

Tarkanian and his wife are the parents of three young children. Lois was born in June 2003, and twins Ava and Ashley were born in March of this year.

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