Danny Tarkanian

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Danny Tarkanian
Danny Tarkanian by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Tarkanian in 2015
Daniel George John Tarkanian

(1961-12-18) December 18, 1961 (age 57)
EducationDixie State University
University of Nevada, Las
University of San Diego (JD)
Political partyRepublican
Amy Hanson (m. 2001)
RelativesJerry Tarkanian (father)
WebsiteOfficial website

Daniel George John Tarkanian (born December 18, 1961) is an American attorney, businessman and perennial candidate for elective office. A Republican, he has mounted unsuccessful campaigns for the Nevada Senate (2004), Nevada Secretary of State (2006), the United States Senate (2010 and 2016), the Nevada System of Higher Education (2014) and the United States House of Representatives (2012, 2016 and 2018).

Tarkanian filed to run for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Dean Heller in the 2018 Republican primary, but later withdrew to run for the United States House of Representatives in Nevada's 3rd congressional district, winning the nomination and then losing the general election to Democrat Susie Lee.

Early life, education, and law career[edit]

Tarkanian was born in Redlands, California, the third of four children. He is the son of Jerry Tarkanian, a prominent University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) basketball coach, and Lois Tarkanian (née Huter),[1] a Las Vegas City Councilwoman, educator of children with disabilities, administrator, and a co-founder for California's first private school for the deaf.

Tarkanian grew up in three different California cities, (Riverside, Pasadena, and Huntington Beach) as his father progressed in his professional career.

The Tarkanian family moved to Nevada in 1973 when Danny was 12. He attended Hyde Park Junior High School in Las Vegas and later the Bishop Gorman High School. He achieved honors in all four years. At Bishop Gorman High School, he played both basketball and football, and both sports teams went into the playoffs and won state championships. In basketball, he played point guard. In football, he played quarterback and was named All-Conference and All-State at his position twice.

After graduating from high school, he spent one year at Dixie College, playing basketball one season, where his team went to the regional playoffs. He was named the school's Male Freshman of the Year.

Tarkanian then transferred to UNLV, where he was coached by his father.[2] He played 3 seasons, 1981–1984, for the UNLV Runnin' Rebels basketball.[3] In his sophomore year, his team won 24 straight games and was ranked number one nationally.[4] At UNLV, Tarkanian was twice named First-Team Academic All-American by the CoSIDA.[5]

He was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in the 1984 NBA Draft in Round 8.[6]

Following graduation, Tarkanian received his J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law.[7]

Tarkanian passed the Nevada Bar Exam and practiced law for eight years, four as proprietor of his own firm.

In 1995, Jerry Tarkanian became the head coach for the Fresno State Bulldogs basketball team at Fresno State, where Danny joined his father as an assistant coach. The team qualified for the post-season every year during Tarkanian's tenure.

Tarkanian moved back to Las Vegas following his father's retirement in 2002. He started a real estate investment business and he co-founded the Tarkanian Basketball Academy.

Political campaigns[edit]

2004 Nevada State Senate election[edit]

On May 4, 2004, Tarkanian filed to run in Nevada's 11th Senate district (map) against incumbent Michael A. Schneider.[8] Schneider defeated Tarkanian in the general election.[9]

Following the election, Tarkanian successfully sued his Democratic opponent for libel and defamation. During the campaign, Schneider made various accusations against Tarkanian, including accusing him of involvement with the creation of illegal telemarketing companies designed to defraud the elderly. The case went to trial on July 27, 2009. Schneider stood by statements he made in a 2004 debate with Tarkanian and in campaign ads and fliers accusing Tarkanian. Former assistant U.S. Attorney Leif Reid, son of Nevada U.S. Senator Harry Reid, testified that Tarkanian was not part of the investigation into the telemarketing companies. On July 31, 2009, a Clark County District Court jury ruled in Tarkanian's favor and awarded him $50,000 in damages. On August 3, 2009, Schneider agreed to pay a $150,000 settlement in the case.[10][11]

2006 Secretary of State election[edit]

In December 2005, Tarkanian announced his second bid for public office, this time a statewide election for Nevada Secretary of State.[12] He defeated Brian Scroggins in the Republican primary and faced Democratic nominee Ross Miller, the son of former Nevada governor Bob Miller in the general election. Miller defeated Tarkanian in the general election.[13]

2010 U.S. Senate election[edit]

In 2009, Tarkanian announced that he would run against Democratic U.S. Senator Harry Reid. Before other candidates entered the primary, Tarkanian was the front-runner for the Republican nomination. Former Nevada Republican Chairwoman Sue Lowden and Former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle entered the primary field shortly after Tarkanian's announcement and quickly overtook him in the polls. Angle won the nomination with Tarkanian finishing third in the field. Angle ultimately lost the general election to Reid.

2012 U.S. House election[edit]

In January 2012, he announced he would run in the newly created Nevada's 4th congressional district.[14] The district includes most of northern Clark County, as well as all or part of the rural counties of Esmeralda, Lincoln, Lyon, Mineral, Nye and White Pine.[15] 46% of the district were registered Democrats, higher than the statewide average of 43%. Registered Republicans were 33% of the district, while they made up 35% statewide.[16]

In June 2012, Tarkanian won the Republican primary with 32% of the vote, defeating eight other candidates. The most notable of these was State Senator Barbara Cegavske, who won the endorsements of the party establishment.[17] Tarkanian faced Democratic State Senate majority leader Steven Horsford in the general election. He lost to Horsford, 50–42%. Although Tarkanian won the rural counties in the district by margins of better than 2-to-1, it was not enough to overcome a 28,800-vote deficit in the district's share of Clark County, home to four-fifths of the district's vote.

2014 Nevada System of Higher Education Regent election[edit]

Tarkanian filed to run for NSHE Regent on March 14, 2014 and withdrew on March 25, 2014 citing that he did not want to oppose a family friend.[18]

2016 U.S. House election[edit]

Tarkanian ran to represent Nevada's 3rd congressional district in the 2016 election. He won the Republican primary in June 2016,[19] and faced Democrat Jacky Rosen in the November 2016 general election.[20] Rosen won with 47% of the vote to Tarkanian's 46%.[21] Tarkanian sued Rosen after the election for defamation and the case is currently pending.[22]

2018 U.S. Senate election[edit]

On August 8, 2017, Tarkanian announced on Fox News that he would run against incumbent Republican Nevada Senator Dean Heller in the 2018 primary. Tarkanian promised firmer support for President Donald Trump.[23][24] He also gained the support of Steve Bannon, the executive chairman for Breitbart News.[25] In October 2017, Tarkanian was photographed with brothel owner Dennis Hof at a county fair.[26]

On February 1, 2018, in a meeting between Republican National Committee members and Donald Trump, Trump said that he would travel to Nevada to support Heller, who was doing well in the polls, in the Republican primary against Tarkanian.[27] On March 16, 2018, hours before the filing deadline and at the request of President Trump, Tarkanian announced that he would be withdrawing from the Senate race and would instead run for Nevada's 3rd congressional district.[28][29]

2018 U.S. House election[edit]

Tarkanian had seven times as much campaign funding as any of his primary opponents as of mid-April 2018.[30] He won the Republican primary on June 12, 2018, with 44.1% of the vote. He faced Democrat Susie Lee in the general election[31] and lost 52–43%.

Legal issues[edit]

In June 2012, a federal court issued a $17 million judgment against Tarkanian and his family in a California real estate deal gone bad.[32]

In February 2018, the campaign co-chair for Dean Heller filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission regarding a $40,000 loan that went from Tarkanian's charity basketball organization to his campaign during his 2012 candidacy.[33]

Personal life[edit]

In October 2001, Tarkanian married Amy Hanson. The couple lived in Las Vegas until 2019 where they moved to Gardnerville[34] and they have four children. In 2011, Amy Tarkanian was elected chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party, served about eight months, and resigned in February 2012 during her husband's primary campaign.[35]

Electoral history[edit]

2004 Nevada Senate election in Clark County District 11[36]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Michael A. Schneider 13,649 54%
Republican Danny Tarkanian 11,746 46%
Democratic hold Swing
2006 Nevada Secretary of State election[37]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Ross Miller 279,510 48.7%
Republican Danny Tarkanian 232,705 40.6%
Independent American Janine Hansen 38,757 6.8%
None of These Candidates 22,666 4.0%
Democratic gain from Republican Swing
2010 U.S. Senate Republican primary results [38]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Sharron Angle 70,422 40.1
Republican Sue Lowden 45,871 26.1
Republican Danny Tarkanian 40,926 23.3
Republican John Chachas 6,925 3.9
Republican Chad Christensen 4,803 2.7
Republican None of These Candidates 3,090 1.8
Republican Bill Parson 1,483 0.8
Republican Gary Bernstein 698 0.4
Republican Garn Mabey 462 0.2
Republican Cecilia Stern 355 0.2
Republican Brian Nadell 235 0.1
Republican Terry Suominen 223 0.1
Republican Gary Marinch 178 0.1
Total votes 175,691 100
2012 Republican primary in Nevada's 4th congressional district
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Danny Tarkanian 7,605 31.5
Republican Barbara Cegavske 6,674 27.7
Republican Kenneth Wegner 5,069 21.0
Republican Dan Schwartz 2,728 11.3
Republican Kiran Hill 666 2.8
Republican Diana Anderson 607 2.5
Republican Mike Delarosa 370 1.5
Republican Sid Zeller 252 1.0
Republican Robert X. Leeds 165 0.7
Total votes 24,136 100
2012 general election in Nevada's 4th congressional district [39]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Steven Horsford 120,501 50.11
Republican Danny Tarkanian 101,261 42.11
Independent American Floyd Fitzgibbons 9,389 3.90
Libertarian Joseph P. Silvestri 9,341 3.88
Total votes 240,492 100.0
2016 Republican primary in Nevada's 3rd congressional district[40]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Daniel Tarkanian 9,002 31.98%
Republican Michael Roberson 6,759 24.01%
Republican Michele Fiore 5,124 18.21%
Republican Andrew Matthews 3,975 14.12%
Republican Kerry Bowers 1,569 5.57%
Republican Annette Teijeiro 1,336 4.75%
Republican Sami Khal 381 1.35%
Total votes 28,146 100.00%
2016 general election in Nevada's 3rd congressional district[41]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jacky Rosen 146,869 47.23%
Republican Danny Tarkanian 142,926 45.96%
Independent American Warren Markowitz 11,602 3.73%
Independent David Goossen 9,566 3.08%
Total votes 310,963 100.00%
Democratic gain from Republican
2018 Republican primary in Nevada's 3rd congressional district
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Danny Tarkanian 15,257 44.1
Republican Michelle Mortensen 8,491 24.6
Republican Scott Hammond 5,804 16.8
Republican David McKeon 1,698 4.9
Republican Annette Teijeiro 1,225 3.5
Republican Patrick Carter 942 2.7
Republican Stephanie Jones 450 1.3
Republican Eddie Hamilton 360 1.0
Republican Thomas La Croix 345 1.0
Total votes 34,572 100.0
Nevada's 3rd congressional district, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Susie Lee 148,501 51.9
Republican Danny Tarkanian 122,566 42.8
Libertarian Steve Brown 4,555 1.6
Independent David Goossen 3,627 1.3
Independent American Harry Vickers 3,481 1.2
Independent Gil Eisner 1,887 0.7
Independent Tony Gumina 1,551 0.5
Total votes 286,168 100.0
Democratic hold


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  2. ^ [1] Archived November 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
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  8. ^ Kirsten Searer. "Assemblyman from Henderson says he won't run this year - Wednesday, May 5, 2004 | 11:29 a.m." Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
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  19. ^ Botkin, Ben (June 14, 2016). "GOP taps Tarkanian over Roberson in 3rd Congressional District primary". Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  20. ^ Botkin, Ben (September 26, 2016). "Tarkanian proposes CD3 debate; Rosen campaign calls it a 'sham'". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  21. ^ By $${element.Contributor} (November 9, 2016). "Democrat Jacky Rosen Wins in Nevada's 3rd District". Rollcall.com. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
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  25. ^ "Welcome to Steve Bannon's controversial candidates' club - CNNPolitics". Cnn.com. November 21, 2017. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
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  27. ^ Trump tells RNC members he'll campaign for Dean Heller in Nevada, will visit other states, CNN , Eric Bradner, February 2, 2018. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
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