White House Considers Nevada Gov. Sandoval for Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (AP) -
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, left, and Wyoming Gov. Matthew Mead talk as they walk in the rain upon arriving at  the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, left, and Wyoming Gov. Matthew Mead talk as they walk in the rain upon arriving at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The White House is considering Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada as a possible nominee to the Supreme Court, two people familiar with the process said Wednesday.

The nomination of a Republican would be seen as an attempt by President Barack Obama to break the Senate GOP blockade of any of his choices. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said his 54-member GOP caucus is opposed to holding confirmation hearings or vote on Obama’s pick, insisting that the choice rests with the next president.

The officials declined to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Mari St. Martin, Sandoval’s communications director, said Wednesday that the governor hasn’t been contacted by the White House.

“Neither Gov. Sandoval nor his staff has been contacted by or talked to the Obama administration regarding any potential vetting for the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court,” she said.

Sandoval met with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid on Monday in Washington while he was in town for a meeting of the National Governors Association.

At the governors’ meeting over the weekend, Sandoval said he was honored his name was mentioned as a potential successor for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, but had heard nothing to think the Democratic president is considering him.

Before Sandoval, 52, became the state’s first Hispanic governor, he was the state’s first Hispanic federal judge.

Sandoval’s consideration immediately reverberated in the Nevada Senate race, where candidates are vying to replace Reid, who is retiring. Democratic Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto urged her Republican competitors to call for hearings if Sandoval is the pick.

Sandoval’s consideration was first reported by The Washington Post.