The Republican Party has been hampered nationwide by a lack of good, principled candidates in recent years. Unprincipled GOP moderate candidates – combined with poorly-run campaigns – have lost over and over in national and state elections.

The American political landscape has changed over the last decade, and Republicans need better candidates with a more wide-spread appeal to win elections.

So… is there a better candidate with more widespread appeal? Indeed, there is.

The current Republican governor of Nevada has a 70 percent approval rating (exceptional in a bad economy)… is feared by Democrats such as Harry Reid… and is well-liked by Independent voters.

His name is Governor Brian Sandoval.

However, he isn’t considered a national contender by Republicans in Washington, D.C. – even though he’s considered a lock for re-election in 2014. That’s because he hasn’t marched in lock-step with more socially-conservative Republicans.

Sandoval has extensive experience in the judicial branch of government. He was a federal district judge and state attorney general, who took a tough stance against domestic violence and human trafficking.

Like Harry Reid, he also served as Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission. However, Sandoval has developed an image of an elected official who also has integrity. That’s a rarity in politics, and especially in Nevada.

He’s pro-choice but opposed to late-term abortions and public funding, and recently signed a bill into law that legalized medical marijuana. Sandoval is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, favors secure borders and opposes amnesty for illegal aliens.

His style of governing could best be described as pragmatic. He recently cut the Nevada state budget by 5% (after asking for a cut of 9%), and raised taxes – which didn’t set well with anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist.

Here’s a video of his address to the 2012 Republican Convention:

With an impressive resume, widespread appeal and more libertarian governing, Sandoval is a rising Republican star. He has a realistic chance to beat Harry Reid in the 2016 election for Senate, and a possible Presidential run in 2020.

His Hispanic heritage will also work in his favor. One in four Nevadans are Hispanic as well as a growing number of Americans. It’s obvious that Republicans can’t win national elections with just the Anglo vote.

Republicans have to run more principled, likeable and trustworthy candidates – if they want a better chance to win elections. GOP insiders in Washington should be more flexible on ideology and embrace more candidates like Brian Sandoval.