Introducing the candidates: A look at who’s running for Nevada’s 1st Congressional District

Sun, May 17, 2020 (2 a.m.)

Nevada’s 1st Congressional District makes up much of Las Vegas proper and the portion of unincorporated Clark County that includes the Las Vegas Strip. 

Rep. Dina Titus, who has held the district since 2013, will face two opponents in the Democratic primary, each progressive challengers who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the presidential nomination.

Dina Titus (incumbent)

Titus, who serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure, Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs committees, is a vocal opponent of President Donald Trump. She helped get legislation passed to expand federal aid to small gaming businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“In Congress, we must reverse Donald Trump’s reckless agenda and pass bills in the House that reduce income inequality, protect the environment and increase access to quality and affordable health care,” she said when announcing her reelection campaign.

Titus is a longtime fixture in Nevada politics, having served as state Senate minority leader for 16 years. The former UNLV political science professor is also the longest tenured member of the state’s Washington delegation.

She came out early in her support of Joe Biden’s campaign for the presidential nomination, throwing her support behind the former vice president when others in the party were still undecided.

Anthony Thomas Jr.

Thomas backs many of the policy proposals the Democratic socialist movement touts, including universal government-run health care and free college. He calls Medicare for All a human right.

Thomas, a security guard, is running because he walks “in the same shoes as the majority of working class families in Nevada.” His policy positions include raising the minimum wage to $15 and guaranteeing paternity and maternity leave.

He is also calling for a statewide corporate tax of 12% to fund the public school system, monies that would guarantee teacher salaries and increase classroom spending, according to his website.

This is Thomas’ first political campaign.

Allen Rhienhart

Rheinhart, a Democratic socialist candidate, has twice unsuccessfully run for office — in 2016 for U.S. Senate and 2014 for governor.

Rheinhart’s campaign website indicates he is “to the left” of Sen. Bernie Sanders, considered by many to be one of, if not the most, progressive members of Congress. Rheinhart’s website said that he wants to go to Congress to exclusively represent people of color, a population whose needs he said have been consistently overlooked by the government. 

He supports a wealth tax on billionaires, a $22.20 an hour minimum wage and the elimination of all student debt.

Republicans 

Joyce Bentley

Bentley, a longtime Las Vegas resident, won the Republican primary for the district in 2018 before losing to Titus by about 35% of the vote in the general election.

Bentley, a real estate agent and former banker, supports an expansion of oil drilling and touts the Trump administration’s opening of certain areas of the Arctic to drilling in order to guarantee “energy freedom.” 

Bentley is also pushing for an independent audit of Nevada’s comprehensive annual financial report, a report on the state’s financial condition.

“Because the U.S. House deals with economic revenue, bills, contracts and negotiations, my background in banking, real estate, and business ownership makes me uniquely qualified to handle these specific matters,” she posted to her campaign site.

Josh Elliott

Elliott, who has lived in Las Vegas for more than five decades, says he wants to be known as the energy candidate.

“Everything from wind power to nuclear, we will eventually be known as the energy state,” Elliott posted on the Ballotpedia candidate questionnaire. “As we continue to develop and encourage all forms of energy, we must also focus on providing our students with the proper education to be able to be employed in these high-paying jobs.”

Elliott is in favor of the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository outside Las Vegas, writing “you say it’s not safe. It’s the safest in the world. We need to concentrate on developing infrastructure.” He also wants to open the Nevada National Security Site to make sure “our nuclear weapons are ready and tested.”

Elliott’s other stances fall into the moderate camp of the Republican Party. They include offering amnesty for DACA recipients while making other undocumented immigrants leave the country to reenter legally, implementing alternatives to incarceration and opposing late-term abortions. 

He also wants to construct retail storefronts along streets named after Martin Luther King Jr. to support black and minority communities.

Citlaly Larios-Elias

Larios-Elias, a Mexican immigrant who grew up in the district, says Democratic policies are harming Nevada economically during the coronavirus pandemic. She criticized Titus and others for not working to diversify the state’s economy.

“Nevada’s economy, once again solely dependent on gaming and entertainment, has collapsed again,” she posted on her campaign website. “This alone should be the reason we need younger, more innovative leaders that are not entrenched in the political constraints of partisanship.”

She supports President Trump’s economic policies and backs negotiating tariffs and “putting American companies first,” which she says will help increase the country’s gross domestic product.

Larios-Elias, who was born in Mexico and came to Las Vegas at age 4, says “those that wish to come to this country and enjoy our freedoms must be willing to follow our immigration laws, enter legally and then, if they choose to stay, take the responsibility of going through the process of becoming a citizen.”

The former U.S. Army combat medic supports repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, opposes abortion except in cases of a danger to the mother’s life or of rape or incest, and opposes further gun restrictions.

Eddie Hamilton

Eddie Hamilton, who styles himself occasionally as ”MrLasVegas,” has run for offices throughout Southern Nevada multiple times, normally with nicknames included on the ballot like “Mr. Clean,” “Fast Eddie” or “Swamper.”

Hamilton does not maintain a campaign website, instead running a Facebook group where he posts pro-Trump and anti-Democrat memes and posts. Some of these posts openly tout conspiracy theories. (We won’t publish those.)

Hamilton repeatedly referred to Titus as a “socialist” and said that he supported Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s stance that Las Vegas should be fully reopened, which runs contrary to expert opinion.

He’s previously run for mayor, city council, governor and U.S. Senate.

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