A Gardnerville man plans to seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Richard Bryan.
Richard Hamzik, a Republican and self-described "citizen legislator," says he'll be taking his populist viewpoints on the road in coming months in a challenge to career politicians and overreaching federal policies.
"Nobody has looked at me and said, 'You're crazy,'" said Hamzik. "I think I have an excellent chance based on what people have said."
As of Wednesday, he said he'd raised $100, a private donation from a Gardnerville priest.
Former U.S. Rep. John Ensign, also a Republican, has already announced plans to seek the post. Ensign narrowly lost to Nevada's other senator, Democrat Harry Reid, in 1998.
Hamzik, 45, has lived in Douglas County since 1996, coming from Arizona. He and his wife Bernadine have three children, Jae, 13, Cole, 10, and Niki, 8. Hamzik is a self-employed computer circuit design consultant.
Hamzik said he has never held public office. He decided to seek Bryan's seat at the beginning of the year while he was watching a national campaign event.
"If I didn't make this run, I wouldn't be able to look my kids in the eye six years from now when they're asking why taxes are so high," he said.
Hamzik favors a more literal interpretation of the Constitution in which individual states carry more power and the federal government holds less. He has sketched plans for privatizing Social Security and thinks states or private groups should administer welfare plans.
He supports term limits and says he wouldn't stay in office for more than two terms - 12 years, in the case of the U.S. Senate. That plan will give him the freedom to pursue policies he believes in instead of currying favors and worrying about long-term alliances, he said.
"They can't hold anything over me. I'm term-limited," he said. "I'll whack at them every chance I get. It's the culture of the elite. Why not just have regular people there?"
Hamzik admits that attitude may not be well-received. He also disagrees with Sen. Reid on several issues but says the two could still work together.
"He's another guy I will drag kicking and screaming into the constitutional arena," he said. "I would do my best to enlighten him on freedom and liberty and justice for all."
Of the Constitution, he added, "I don't subscribe to the theory it's a living, breathing document that can be adapted to fit any situation. The creators wanted to limit the federal government. People don't realize the intrusiveness of the federal government."
Hamzik doesn't agree with Bryan's proposal to create a National Conservation Area on the Black Rock Desert in northern Washoe County. He thinks local and state governments could provide adequate protection for the desert lands.
He thinks the Lincoln-Douglas Exchange proposal, in which federal land in Lincoln County would be sold and the proceeds used for preserving open land in Douglas County, should be put to a vote.
"I'm all for selling public lands off, but I just don't want them buying anything else," he said. "I don't want it forced down anyone's throats."
Hamzik acknowledged Ensign will have a significant edge because he has name recognition and experience running a Senate campaign, plus serving in Congress.
"I view him as vulnerable," said Hamzik. "He hasn't really said anything so far. He's already got a record. I haven't viewed it in detail, but it doesn't look like anything you'd write home about."
Despite his anti-insider philosophy, Hamzik said he favors George W. Bush in the presidential race. He considers the Democratic contender, Vice President Al Gore, "unstable and dangerous, because I don't know what he'll do."
Hamzik said he's ready to shake up Washington and, in his words, "wreak havoc on the Senate."
"There's no reason I can't go up and do this," he said. "Of course, I'm going to have a lot of bruises on my nose because doors are going to be shutting in my face.
"There's no reason I can't stand there and keep knocking."