IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES
• June 12: Primary election, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
• Oct. 9: Postmark deadline for general election voter registration
• Oct. 16: In-person voter registration deadline
• Oct. 18: Online voter registration deadline
• Oct. 20-Nov. 2: Early voting
• Nov. 6: General election
Voters will have a slew of candidates to choose from this year, an election season marked by President Donald Trump and a wave of activism. The GOP tends to have stronger turnout in the midterms, though races in Texas and elsewhere have shown an uptick in Democratic turnout.
UNLV associate history professor Michael Green said Nevada’s races will be key and may influence the balance in Washington, D.C., and at the state level. “Democrats seem likely to keep control of the Legislature in 2018,” Green said. “The seats that seem to be on the bubble don’t really favor a Republican takeover.” Here are the key races to keep an eye on and their front-runners, based on campaign funds raised.
With Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval term-limited, the seat is ostensibly up for grabs for either party. Voters haven’t put a Democrat in the office since Bob Miller, who had the position from 1989 to 1999. There are 17 candidates in the race.
Experts and groups including Nevadans for the Common Good consider Clark County Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani the Democratic front-runners in the race.
Where Sisolak has been a major supporter of the Raiders stadium deal that carries a $750 million public investment and could generate 45,000 jobs, Giunchigliani has been critical of the plan at a time when Nevada’s schools are struggling financially and academically. Giunchigliani has said the state may not be able to renegotiate the deal, but that the contract shows where Nevada’s priorities are.
Attorney General Adam Laxalt is favored among many Republicans, including GOP donor Sheldon Adelson. Laxalt has skipped several gubernatorial forums and debates, but has said he supports repealing the Commerce Tax, which became law under Sandoval in an effort to support education.
Treasurer Dan Schwartz is considered one of Laxalt’s biggest rivals. Schwartz has been critical of the $750 million stadium deal as well, and wants to use that public investment in place of the Commerce Tax, which he also supports repealing.
• Commerce tax: Opposed by Laxalt and Schwartz; supported by Giunchigliani and Sisolak
• Education savings account: Supported by Laxalt and Schwartz; opposed by by Giunchigliani and Sisolak
• Gun background checks: Laxalt has not worked to enforce the law passed by voters; Schwartz wants the will of voters enforced; Giunchigliani and Sisolak want the law implemented
• Protecting Nevada's Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act: Supported by Laxalt, Schwartz, Giunchigliani and Sisolak
• Others in the race: John Bonaventura, D; Asheesh Dewan, D; David Jones, D; Henry Thorns, D; William Boyd, R; Stephanie Carlisle, R; Frederick Conquest, R; Edward Dundas, R; Jared Fisher, R; Stan Lusak, R; Russell Best, I; Jared Lord, L; Ryan Bundy, unaffiliated
Republican Wes Duncan is vying to replace his former boss as attorney general, announcing his campaign on the heels of Adam Laxalt’s official launch of his gubernatorial bid in November 2017. Duncan had resigned from the Assembly in 2014 to join Laxalt’s office.
Duncan, a favorite in the race with Laxalt’s endorsement, faces former deputy district attorney Craig Mueller in the Republican primary. A first-time candidate who wants to expel the Bureau of Land Management from Nevada, Mueller has been outspoken in support of states’ rights when it comes to marijuana, and has called on Duncan to do the same. Duncan has declined to weigh in on the issue, saying he has “no comment on any possible future legal actions by the federal government.”
Democrats have criticized Duncan as another Laxalt, whose office has signed onto an amicus brief in support of a Texas abortion law. A court ruled the law was unconstitutional. Democrats faced criticism from the AG’s office during the legislative session, where Aaron Ford was Senate Majority Leader, after several Laxalt-backed bills, including a measure to reduce the rape kit backlog, were incorporated into other measures sponsored by the majority party. Ford also signed on to a sanctuary state bill that he and other Democrats never brought up for a hearing.
Ford, the Democratic front-runner, received endorsements from a number of party leaders, including U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. His primary opponent, Stuart MacKie, is a Northern Nevada resident and farm owner who has not reported receiving any contributions for his campaign.
• Abortion: Opposed by Duncan; Mueller opposes but has no plans to weigh in on such cases; Ford is pro-choice
• Sanctuary cities: Opposed by Duncan and Mueller; supported by Ford
• Marijuana: No comment by Duncan; Mueller and Ford support the will of the voters
• Gun background check law: Duncan says it's unenforceable without federal cooperation; Mueller says it's unenforceable without federal cooperation and he supports stiffer penalties for felons in possession of firearms; Ford says law should be enforced
• Others in the race: Joel Hansen, I
Dean Heller is the only Republican senator working to retain a seat in a state that went for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. He’s received some support from President Donald Trump, who helped push his chief primary opponent out of the race after Heller jumped on board with Obamacare repeal, which failed.
Republican Sarah Gazala is the only other GOP primary candidate to report contributions in the race and is being labeled a “Make America Great Again” candidate.
Heller had previously stood alongside Gov. Brian Sandoval last year in support of protecting health care coverage in Nevada, saying it would be very difficult to get him to vote yes on an Obamacare repeal-and-replace plan that lawmakers were considering at the time. More than 200,000 Nevada residents gained health coverage when Sandoval became the first Republican governor to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., is considered the front-runner among more than a dozen challengers for Heller’s seat. Heller and Rosen supporters have sparred over Congress’ recent passage of tax reform. Rosen has criticized the new law for its permanent corporate tax cuts and temporary reductions for individuals. Heller’s campaign has pointed to companies such as Apple that have committed to giving employees benefits related to the new tax law, while opponents have pointed to companies that are buying back stock and giving higher dividends for shareholders.
Rosen’s next-closest competitor in the Democratic primary, in terms of fundraising, is Medicare-for-all candidate Jesse Sbaih, who lent his campaign more than $2 million of the almost $2.2 million it took in from April to March 31. Rosen is not signed onto the House’s Medicare-for-all bill.
• Health care: Heller and Gazala want to repeal and replace Obamacare; Rosen wants to fix Obamacare; Sbaih wants Medicare for all
• Tax reform: Supported by Heller and Gazala; Opposed by Rosen and Sbaih
• Immigration: Heller supports a solution for certain young immigrants plus border protection; Gazala supports a border wall and Trump’s immigration policies; Rosen and Sbaih support the Dream Act
• Others in the race: Sherry Brooks, R; Vic Harrell, R; Tom Heck, R; Danny Burleigh, D; David Drew Knight, D; Mahendra, D; Allen Rheinhart, D; Kamau Bakari, I; Tim Hagan, L; Richard Charles, unaffiliated; Barry Michaels, unaffiliated
Congressional District 1
Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., is running for re-election in a relatively safe district where Republicans have less than 60,000 active registered voters. There are more than 133,000 active registered Democrats in the district, which includes the Strip. Her opponent in the primary is Reuben D’Silva. Republican Joyce Bentley is vying for the party’s nomination against Fred Horne, who also campaigned in 2016. Bentley is running on Trump’s “Make America Great Again” platform.
• Others in the race: Fred Horne, R; Robert Strawder, L; Dan Garfield, I
Congressional District 2
In Northern Nevada, Rep. Mark Amodei is also relatively safe in a district where Republicans have at least 48,000 more active registered voters than Democrats. He supported tax reform in Congress and signed on to a discharge petition in the House to force a vote on the Dream Act, legislation offering deportation protection to certain young immigrants who are living in the country illegally.
Financially, Sharron Angle is his next-closest opponent in the primary. Amodei and Angle used to serve in the state Legislature together.
Rick Shepherd, a Medicare-for-all candidate, is leading Democrats in fundraising. Next is Democrat Clint Koble, whose platform supports Medicare for those who need it most.
Key issues: Joel Beck, R; Ian Luetkehans, R; Vance Alm, D; Patrick Fogarty, D; Jesse Douglas Hurley, D; Jack Schofield Jr., D
• Health care: Amodei wants to repeal and replace Obamacare; Angle wants to repeal Obamacare; Shepherd favors Medicare for all; Koble wants to strengthen Obamacare and move toward Medicare for all
• Tax reform: Supported by Amodei; Angle supports permanently lowering taxes; Opposed by Shepherd and Koble
• Immigration: Amodei dupports a path to citizenship for certain immigrants living in the country illegally; Angle opposes citizenship for people living in the country illegally; Shepherd supports a path to citizenship; Koble supports comprehensive immigration reform
• Gun laws: Amodei supports improved reporting to NICS as part of Concealed Carry Reciprocity; Angle opposes gun law reform; Shepherd supports reforms including a bump stock ban and raising the minimum age to 21; Koble supports bans on assault weapons, bump stocks and certain ammunition
• Others in the race:
Congressional District 3
Almost two dozen people have filed to run for this position since Jacky Rosen decided to vacate it and challenge Sen. Dean Heller. Democrats have a slight edge with more than 148,000 active registered voters compared with less than 143,000 active registered Republicans as of the end of May.
Susie Lee is considered the Democratic front-runner, with endorsements from prominent Democrats including former Vice President Joe Biden and Emily’s List, a group supporting pro-choice women for office.
Her nearest opponent in fundraising is Jack Love, a Medicare-for-all candidate.
Repeated Republican candidate Danny Tarkanian jumped into the race after talking with President Donald Trump, taking himself out of a contentious Senate primary against Heller. Tarkanian criticized Heller for not supporting Trump’s agenda. Relatively new to the race, he has been endorsed by Attorney General Adam Laxalt.
State Sen. Scott Hammond is next behind Tarkanian in fundraising. Hammond is one of the lawmakers who helped establish Nevada’s Opportunity Scholarship program and its currently defunct Education Savings Accounts.
Republican and former reporter Michelle Mortensen also is in the crowded Republican primary. She has criticized the “liberal media,” which has been a focal point for Trump and his attacks against so-called fake news.
• Health care: Tarkanian and Hammond want to repeal Obamacare; Lee wants to improve Obamacare; Love favors Medicare for all
• Government support for private schools: Tarkanian supports vouchers for private schools; Hammond supports Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts and Opportunity Scholarships; Lee supports funding for public education; Love opposes vouchers for private schools
• Others in the race: Richard Hart, D; Guy Pinjuv, D; Steven Schiffman, D; Eric Stoltz, D; Michael Weiss, D; Patrick Carter, R; Eddie Hamilton, R; Stephanie Jones, R; Thomas La Croix, R; David McKeon, R; Annette Teijeiro, R; Michelle Mortensen, R; Steve Brown, L; Harry Vickers, I; Gil Eisner, unaffiliated; David Goossen, unaffiliated; Tony Gumina, unaffiliated
Congressional District 4
Accusations of misconduct against women have been a focal point of the race for a seat that could have been an easier keep for Democrats, who had at least 32,000 more active registered voters in the district than Republicans as of last month.
The race is in play after Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., was accused of sexual misconduct. Buzzfeed first reported that a former member of Kihuen’s election campaign said she quit after he harassed her. Kihuen has said he is looking forward to clearing his name.
Running for the seat he lost to Kihuen in 2016, Republican Cresent Hardy’s campaign has also been touched by misconduct scandals. Red Rock Strategies fired a political consultant who worked on Hardy’s campaign after the consultant was accused of domestic violence, the Associated Press reported. It’s unclear whether the harassment and abuse cases will register with voters, though Green said that in Alabama’s recent Senate race, Democrat Doug Jones won against Roy Moore, also accused of sexual misconduct, largely because the candidate was a problem for Republicans.
The rest of the race for the fourth district, where Yucca Mountain is located, is crowded with more than a dozen other candidates as well. Former Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford is leading in funds raised and is endorsed by the local Culinary Union. He had previously led an affiliate of the union, the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas.
Democrat Amy Vilela, a Medicare-for-all candidate, is second in funds raised, followed by John Anzalone, a school principal whose platform focuses on school safety and a system to help schools maintain staffing for mental health experts.
Aside from Hardy, the Republican primary is crowded with relative newcomers. The fundraising frontrunner is David Gibbs. His next-closest opponent in terms of fundraising is Bill Townsend.
• Yucca Mountain: Hardy is open to discussions; Townsend opposes is without safety, transportation and other assurances; Horsford, Vilela and Anzalone oppose it
• Health care: Hardy opposes the ACA and supports reform; Townsend wants to fix issues with the ACA; Horsford supports universal health care that protects government health programs and veterans; Vilela supports Medicare for all; Anzalone wants to ensure seniors have comprehensive Medicare plans before expanding to all
• Others in the race: Pat Spearman, D; Allison Stephens, D; Sid Zeller, D; Jeff Miller, R; Mike Monroe, R; Kenneth Wegner, R; Gregg Luckner, L; Warren Markowitz, I; Dean McGonigle, unaffiliated; Rodney Smith, unaffiliated
This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly