Believe Jared Fisher when he says he loves Nevada. He came here more than 25 years ago to study at UNLV, and never left. Fisher and his wife, Heather, own Las Vegas Cyclery and Escape Adventures, a bike touring company that operates across the American west. Although he has almost no political experience, Fisher launched a long-shot bid last month for governor via the Republican primary next June, kicking it off with a 1,400-mile listening tour of the state by bike. Fisher’s early; so far he’s the only formally declared candidate in either primary, but we caught up with him after the tour to learn more about his trip and his two-wheel bid for the governor’s mansion in Carson City.
Tell us about the idea for a listening tour by bike. How did it happen?
Jared Fisher: The tour was meant to combine my love for cycling, my curiosity for knowing the backcountry spots in Nevada, and my campaign to run for governor, all in one big grand adventure. It was a mix of road and mountain. I did it in 13 days; faster than I expected, but it was as hard as I thought it would be. The route was a mix of hitting the main towns and talking with people, but I also wanted to go to the old mining towns, many of which are long forgotten, some are halfway dying and have depressed economies and need help.
100-plus miles a day is a lot. How much listening were you able to fit into that kind of a ride schedule?
JF: I’d hit three or four towns a day. I’d go and talk to people on the street or in businesses; I’d just walk in and introduce myself. I made a point to hand out my business card, and got to know what people were thinking about, issues that matter to them. We also filmed the entire trip and we’ll put out a documentary soon. I tried to send advance notice in some of the bigger towns, and my campaign director helped put out word with some of the papers but I had to play it by ear because, based on however the ride was going, I could be there a day earlier or later.
How did people respond to a candidate doing a listening tour by bike?
JF: One of the great things about riding, especially mountain biking, was that I could talk to people in the middle of nowhere, out hiking or motorcycling. I only had one negative experience at one location I won’t mention. And I only had one bad encounter with a vehicle: a semi truck driver who did his little dive onto the shoulder and honked his horn. That was one out of a ton of vehicles over 1,400 miles.
Do you think people reacted at all differently to you in the meet-and-greets because you were on a bike?
JF: I didn’t have problems talking with people who were not the press. When it came to the press they were a little reluctant, kind of “Why is this guy riding a bike?” I said, “This isn’t about the bike. I’m a serious candidate.” Some people don’t take it serious, but if we end up in Carson City we’ll have proven those people wrong… I told [them] the best way for me to experience what people live is to roll in and see the environment at a slower pace and connect myself with their community. I can’t do that in a car. You can’t see things the way you can on a bike or walking.
What did you find that surprised you?
JF: One thing I did find out is that on the Republican side, people care a lot about the environment; much more than the core party talks about. I think that’ll be a major issue in the next election. I’m going to make an extra heavy hit in the conservation area. It’s important to everyone.
You don’t have direct governmental experience. Why go for the governor then? Why not start with a local office like county commissioner?
JF: I love that question. The governor’s job is the one (statewide executive) role that’s unique in that it is 100-percent a leadership position. I can’t think of a better position for me. My whole career has been focused around working with government in the western US: the BLM, Forest Service, and state parks, through our business which deals with permitting and land use issues. I understand bureaucracy. I’ve done it here, I’ve travelled by bike in New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho and dealt with organizations and state boards all over. I understand how it works.
Do you think you’ll still have time for riding if you do get elected?
JF: Oh trust me, I’ll ride my bike. Our slogan is “A Healthy Nevada.” We’ll always start our day with exercise. You may see some senators out there riding with me in a few years. I already know all the trails around Carson City. I’ve done a lot of trail work with the Tahoe Trail Association, so I know the area well I’m excited to go up for a change of pace for four years.