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The Race For Governor: Ryan Bundy

Ryan Bundy leaving the Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas.
Associated Press

Ryan Bundy leaving the Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas.

Many people know there are two candidates vying for governor this fall. Steve Sisolak for the Democrats and Adam Laxalt for Republicans. 


But there’s a third candidate whose last name is more well-known than either of them. 


Ryan Bundy is running for governor as an independent. And because he had no opposition in the primary, he is automatically on the ballot in November. 


Ryan is the son of Cliven Bundy, the man who inspired an armed standoff with federal authorities at Bundy Ranch near Bunkerville in 2014. 


Ryan Bundy spent two years in jail awaiting trial on charges connected with that standoff. The trial ended up with Ryan and other co-defendants being freed because the judge said federal prosecutors withheld evidence, calling it a miscarriage of justice. 


Shortly after his release in January, Ryan Bundy announced his run for governor. 

“I’m running for governor because I can see there are many atrocities taking place by the government both on the state level and the federal level,” Bundy told KNPR's State of Nevada.

He said the government should be the protector of individual rights but in many cases is actually the one violating those rights. 

And he has a specific problem with the amount of power wielded by the federal government. Bundy believes the states should be completely in control of what happens within their borders.

“The United States – I don’t see as one country. I see the United States as 50 separate sovereign individual countries – so to speak – that we are united for common cause and purposes,” he said.

He points to the federal control of most of the land in Nevada as a example of federal overreach. 

“Nevada is only 10 percent of the state that it believes it is," he said. “The rest of it is being controlled as a territory and there is nothing constitutional about that."

Federal management of public lands in the West has long been a sore point for Ryan Bundy and his family. It was at the center of the standoff with federal agents in 2014. It also played a part in the takeover of a Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016, which the Bundys took part in.

But beyond fighting the federal government over control of public lands in Nevada, Bundy would have a lot more issues to tackle if elected governor.

One of the biggest issues still facing the state is the education system. The state ranks at or near the bottom in just about every education survey or study.

Bundy doesn't believe education is the responsibility of the state. He believes it is up to the parents. With that principle as his guide, Bundy believes money for education should follow the child.

“What I would like to see done is any monies that are sent to the schools on behalf of a student -- that instead of the money being sent to the schools, that the money would follow the child and let the parent decide where the student goes,” he said.

Bundy believes that would makes schools competitive and improve the quality of education.

He also thinks the Clark County School District is much too large and should be divided up, allowing smaller districts like the one that governored his school in Mesquite.

Besides education, another looming issue for Nevada and the rest of the country is the cost of healthcare. Bundy doesn't believe health care is a function of the government and should be left to the individual.

“Health care is not a state issue. That is a private matter that should be handled between an individual and whomever they choose to provide their healthcare," he said.

Despite that stance, Bundy doesn't believe a county-funded hospital like University Medical Center should be allowed to turn away patients who don't have the ability to pay or don't have health insurance.

Bundy would like to see more transparency to help bring down the cost of healthcare.

As for other issues the state is expected to deal with like gun background checks and possible federal meddling into legalized marijuana, Bundy believes strongly in an individuals right to keep and bear arms. And he doesn't think Congress has the constitutional authority to outlaw a plant like marijuana.

While the federal government's role in Nevada is important to Bundy, if he is elected governor he will be working with state lawmakers. Right now, both the state Senate and Assembly have Democratic majorities. So would he be able to reach across the aisle, to compromise with those who have views different than his own?

“First of all, to me, compromise is a very bad word," he said, "Compromise is basically: if there is a right and there is a wrong then we met in the middle. Well, the problem is under compromise the wrong always wins."

He said the only proper choice is to "choose the right and let the consequence follow."

Bundy believes both Republicans and Democrats now focus mainly on political gamesmanship.

“I understand the correct and proper function of government and through that if I can help others in the Legislature and the Congress to see that … that they’ll begin to see that their purpose is to protect the people,” he said.

The general election is November 6. 

Ryan Bundy, independent candidate for governor

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