Post Primary Government Affairs Report – June, 2016

Post Primary Government Affair Report
June 17, 2016


You read the polls and predictions, watched all the TV ads, researched the candidates on your ballot and you voted on or before June 14.  You did vote, right?


Who is in and who is out is now old news. But what does it mean for the upcoming General Election in November, and for the 2017 Legislative Session?  What the Primary result means is that we may see some changes in leadership for the 2017 Nevada Legislative Session.


Let’s take a look at what happened…..


Congressional Races

State Senator Michael Roberson (R) lost his primary election bid for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District to Danny Tarkanian. This is currently Congressman Joe Heck’s seat;   US Senator Harry Reid is supporting Tarkanian’s opponent, newcomer Jacky Rosen.


So is Senator Roberson done?  Nope.  He wisely ran mid-term in his second 4-year term in the Nevada Senate, so he will return for the 2017 session, and will be able to run one additional term, if he so chooses, in 2018.


Congressman Joe Heck led the GOP pack top run for Sen. Harry Reid’s soon-to-be vacated seat, against former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.  While Heck carried 43,170 of the Republican votes (73.02%), Cortez Masto carried 56,636 of the Democratic votes (80.19%).  Without a strong top of the ticket sweetener to drive Republican voters, Heck will have a tough time making up the seven-point spread.


In Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, Democratic State Senator Ruben Kihuen easily won his primary bid.  I say “easily” but he worked hard, as did a couple of well-known Primary opponents, Susie Lee and Lucy Flores.  With the endorsement and support of the Reid political machine, Kihuen has a chance of overcoming incumbent Congressman Cresent Hardy (R) in November. Kihuen gathered 11,556 total votes (41.67%) while Hardy earned 14,184 (77.85%).  That may look like Hardy should be a shoo-in in November, the registered D voters out-number the registered R voters 139,083 to 106,344 with just under 61,000 nonpartisans.


If Kihuen wins, the Clark County Commission will appoint his replacement to the Senate with another Democrat to maintain the current split in the Senate.  Like Roberson, Kihuen is mid-term, so if he loses his congressional bid in the general election, he will also return to the state Senate in 2017.



State Senate

Republicans currently hold an 11 – 10 majority in the 21-member Senate.  The Democrats need just one seat to reverse the majority and have targeted two key seats.  So how did they do?


  • SD 6 in Las Vegas was vacated by Mark Lipparelli (R). Anti-tax advocate Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman defeated NAIOP friend and moderate Assemblyman Erv Nelson in the Republican primary and will face Democratic newcomer Nicole Cannizarro in a district with a 6.12% Democrat registration edge.


  • SD 15 in Reno was vacated by Republican Greg Brower. Former GOP Assemblywoman and former Sandoval Chief of Staff Heidi Gansert was able to defeat her primary challenger, but now faces political newcomer, attorney Devon Reese in the general election. The Republicans have a 2.24% registration advantage in this district.

In addition to defending SD 6 and SD 15, the Senate Republicans are focused on SD 5, endorsing newcomer Carrie Buck (R) against incumbent Senator Joyce Woodhouse (D). Democrats maintain a registration advantage of 5.31% in this district.  Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford is throwing all he’s got into protecting Woodhouse and is hoping to gain the larger office downstairs at the legislature (the Majority Leader’s office).

State Assembly

The Assembly GOP primary was characterized by pitting those who supported the Governor’s education reform package and increased taxes against primary challengers bolstered by a super-conservative, anti-tax caucus faction. Governor Sandoval actively supported those who voted for the controversial tax measures passed during the 2015 Legislature.

Majority Leader Paul Anderson (R) had the task defending 10 key seats in the Assembly Republican caucus from anti-tax primary challengers.  Here are the results:

  • AD2, Speaker Hambrick – Now faces Democratic newcomer Owen Carver in an R-dominant district.
  • AD9, David Gardner – Now faces popular lawyer in the DA’s office/lobbyist Steve Yeager.
  • AD13, Majority Leader Anderson – Victor. No General election opponent.
  • AD19, Chris Edwards – Victor. No General election opponent.
  • AD21, Derek Armstrong – Now faces well-known and well-funded Democratic attorney Ozzie Fumo.
  • AD23, Melissa Woodbury – Faces unknown challenger Gary Jordahl.
  • AD29, Stephen Silberkraus – Faces former assemblywoman Leslie Cohen.
  • AD36, James Oscarson –Now faces a difficult General with well-known and well-funded brothel owner, Dennis Hoff)
  • AD37, Glenn Trowbridge – Lost to newcomer GOP and anti-taxer Jim Marchant.
  • AD40, P.K. O’Neill – Lost to former Carson City Treasurer and anti-taxer Al Kramer.

There were seven open Assembly seats formerly held by Republicans:

  • AD4, Michele Fiore – Now out. Former anti-tax Assemblyman Richard McArthur will face a D challenger and Public Defender John Piro.
  • AD5, Erven Nelson – Resigned seat. Well-known GOP attorney Art Ham will face newcomer D Brittney Miller in the General.
  • AD22, Lynn Stewart – Retired. Endorsed GOP candidate and former NAIOP member Keith Pickard will face Democratic new-comer Luis Aguirre-Insua.
  • AD25, Pat Hickey – Resigned. Endorsed candidate Jill Tolles will face Democrat Eli Smith.
  • AD26, Randy Kirner – Retiring. Anti-tax GOP candidate Lisa Krasner defeated the GOP-endorsed candidate and now gets a free ride through the General.
  • AD34, Victoria Seaman – left seat to run for Senate. This seat now likely flips from Red to Blue with former Titus staffer Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod taking on former Gibbons staffer Matt Williams in the General.
  • AD41, Vickie Dooling – Retiring. High probability of seat flipping from R to D with Dem caucus-endorsed Sandra Jauregui taking on GOP endorsed Nick Phillips. This district currently has 40.70% registered Ds and 33.13% registered Rs.


While the Republicans work to maintain their majority in the Assembly, Democrats need to flip five seats to gain control of the lower house.  At this point in time, at least nine seats have a Democratic registration edge, the largest of which is almost 25% and the smallest of which is 3.44%. These margins continue to widen as Democrats gain ground with voter registration efforts.


The pieces on the chess board are still moving.  With the shifting dynamics of the presidential race, it is impossible to predict which voters – if any — will go to the polls in November. And this will impact nearly all the races detailed above.


Compiled by

The Legislative Team at McDonald Carano Wilson