Nevada State Treasurers

The Nevada Constitution provides for six elected offices, including the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, controller, and treasurer. The treasurer is elected statewide for a four-year term and is an integral part of the checks and balances in the state's accounting system. As custodian of the state's money, he or she is responsible for banking the money and investing the "idle cash," or the money that does not have to be spent that day on the state's behalf. While the state controller is responsible for writing the warrants or checks and for withdrawing money from the bank accounts, the signatures of both the treasurer and controller are required to withdraw money. Many Nevadans may associate the state treasurer with the administration of the Millennium Scholarship, a state program enacted by law in 1999 that provides college scholarships to qualified students.

As of 2007, twenty individuals—eighteen men and two women—have served as treasurer of Nevada. Seventeen were elected to office while three were appointed. Although eleven had previously held elected offices (including in the state assembly and as county treasurer, county commissioner, county recorder, county clerk, and sheriff/assessor), most were not professional politicians. Common occupations included mining (nine treasurers), and banking (seven treasurers). Others were merchants or shop owners (six treasurers), stockbrokers (two treasurers), and school teachers (two treasurers). In the early days of the state, many of these officials worked their primary job while serving as treasurer.

The demographics of Nevada's treasurers are varied. Only George Russell (R) and Dan Franks (D) were native Nevadans. C. C. Batterman (R), David Ryan (S-D), Patty Cafferata (R), and Ken Santor (R) were all born in New York. Three treasurers were foreign-born: George Tufly (R) was born in Switzerland, John Egan (R) in Ireland, and William McMillan (R) in Canada. Further, their ages at first election range from thirty-one to sixty-five with Eben Rhoades (R) as the youngest and Tufly as the oldest. At the beginning of their first term, seven were in their thirties, seven were in their forties, four were in their fifties, and two were in their sixties.

Democrats have dominated the treasurer's office in terms of years, cumulatively serving more than sixty-eight years between 1864 and 2006. Nevertheless, twelve treasurers were Republicans (R), six were Democrats (D), one belonged to the Silver Party (S), and one was a Silver Democrat (S-D). The closest race for treasurer was in 1870 when Jerry Schooling (D) won by 551 votes. The largest margin of victory in an opposed race occurred in 1998 when Brian Krolicki (R) beat the Libertarian candidate by 227,131 votes.

Only six treasurers have been defeated in reelection efforts. Ryan (S-D) lost to McMillan (R) in the 1910 general election when he ran for a fourth term. McMillan was then defeated in the next general election by Ed Malley (D). George Richard (R), who was appointed, ran for treasurer in 1894 and lost to William Westerfield (S). Two incumbent treasurers were defeated in primary elections: Mike Mirabelli (D) in the 1978 primary for his fifth term and Santor (R) in the 1990 primary for his second term. George Russell (R) is the only appointed treasurer who was subsequently elected.

The treasurers' time in office ranged from a short four-and-a-half months to a record twenty-eight years, reflecting the lack of term limits in Nevada. Of the fifteen elected treasurers, Franks (D) served the longest having been elected seven times. Seven treasurers served only one term including Egan (R), who died in office. Mirabelli (D) and Malley (D) were elected four times, but Malley resigned during his fourth term following an indictment for embezzlement. Although six treasurers were elected to two terms, only four completed their second term: Rhoades (R) committed suicide in his second term, and Tufly (R) resigned due to poor health. Ryan (S-D) was elected three times.

Nevada's counties were well represented in the treasurer's office: Washoe (six), Storey (five), Ormsby (two), and one each from Clark, Lincoln, Esmeralda, Nye, White Pine, Elko, and Douglas.

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