5 things to watch in every state: Nevada

Oh, Nevada. I’m very sad that one of my favorite politicians is going to retire in January.  For about 6 years, I’ve wanted to work on Harry Reid’s staff.  It’s been a dream of mine.  Alas, it will probably not happen.

  1. U.S. Presidential election: Over half of Nevada’s voters have already voted.  12 days into early voting, the Clark County firewall for Democrats is 55,000 which is matching the same point it was at in 2012.  There has been some recent polling in the state that is showing Trump winning the state.  I’m not sure I really buy that polling.  For starters, the reason that I don’t is that the polling is notoriously bad in Nevada, especially trying to reach Latino voters.  Latino Decisions and Jon Ralston (who really knows his Nevada politics) criticized the most recent CNN poll that is showing Trump +6.  Ralston is reporting that the edge by Democrats, statewide is about 34,000 right now.  This means that Trump will likely be behind double digits as the first returns come in on Tuesday.
  2. U.S. Senate Race: Ralston also reported that Republican Joe Heck is getting crushed in the early voting returns.  So Heck has to be upset that over half of the ballots have already been cast in his state.  This was supposed to be one of the pickups for Republican Senate hopefuls.  Heck is running to replace Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.  The Democratic nominee is Catherine Cortez Mastro, former Nevada Attorney General.  She knows what it takes to win statewide and has the Reid political machine going for her.  There is probably only a couple of political machines in the country.  Reid’s Democratic political machine is definitely one of them.
  3. U.S. House of Representatives, Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District: Sabato’s Crystal Ball has this election as “leans Democratic.”  Heck who is the current Congressman for this district is running for Senate in the state.  The Republican candidate in the district is Danny Tarkanian.  He is facing Democrat Jacky Rosen.  In 2012, Heck won re-election to represent the district with 50.4% of the vote.  He won by just over 20,000 votes.  If Trump does not do that well in the state or that Reid’s machine does well to get out the vote, this election is going to be very close.
  4. U.S. House of Representatives, Nevada’s 4th Congressional District: This is another potential pickup for the Democratic Party.  Democrat Steven Horsford won election to the seat in 2012 with 50.1% of the vote defeating Republican Danny Tarkanian by 19,000 votes.  Horsford was then defeated in 2014 by 3,600 votes.  The Democratic nominee in this district is Ruben Kihuen who defeated Bernie Sanders backed Lucy Flores in the Democratic primary.  Kihuen is trying to unseat Republican Cresent Hardy.  If the race is going to be similar to 2012, then Kihuen should have a real shot to be able to win the seat back from the Republican incumbent.
  5. Nevada State Senate District 6: Republican Mark Hutchison won election to this seat in 2012 with 50.8% of the vote defeating Democrat Benny Yerushalmi by 900 votes.  That’s a really close race.  National Democrats are trying to take back the State Senate where Republicans hold a one seat advantage.  Republicans currently hold the State Assembly, State Senate, and Governor’s Mansion, so it is fairly important for Democrats to wrest back a little control.  The Democrat running in this election is Nicole Cannizzaro who is hoping to unseat Hutchison.  Democrats are hoping for increased turnout to be able to take back this Senate seat.
  6. Nevada State Senate District 15: This is another seat that is being targeted.  Republican Greg Brower was able to win re-election in 2012, in this district, with 50.2% of the vote defeating Democratic challenger Sheila Leslie by 266 votes.  But good news for the Democrat, Devon Reese, who is running this time to try and take the seat.  Reese is facing Republican Heidi Gansert, so no incumbency advantage, and has a Libertarian Party candidate on the ballot, as well in David Colborne.  I would assume that this seat is more in play than Senate District 6.  But what do I know?
  7. Nevada State Senate District 18: Of the three potential pickups for the Democrats, this seems to me, like the least likely.  Republican Scott Hammond was elected in 2012 with 51.4% of the vote defeating Democrat Kelli Ross by 1,500 votes.  There is a new Democrat running against Hammond in 2016.  The Democrat Alexander Marks is trying to unseat Hammond.  Democrats need to take 2 of 3 to be able to flip the Senate or just one to tie the Senate.
  8. Nevada State Assembly District 9: Democrat Andrew Martin was able to win election to this district with 53.2% of the vote defeating Republican C. Kelly Hurst by 2,346 votes.  In 2014, a more Republican year, Republican David Gardner was able to defeat Democrat Steve Yeager by 464 votes.  That’s a pretty big swing from 2012 to 2014.  I think it’s possible that the turnout is very similar to 2012 (that’s what we’re seeing in the early voting, at least).  If that’s the case then in this rematch of 2014, Yeager is likely to upset Gardner.
  9. Nevada State Assembly District 21: This is a state assembly district that could flip from Republican control to Democratic control.  Democrat Andy Eisen won election to this district in 2012 with 50.1% of the vote defeating Republican Becky Harris by just under 800 votes.  In 2014, Eisen ran for re-election but lost to a new Republican in Derek Armstrong.  Armstrong was able to defeat Eisen by 451 votes.  So the election was decided by just over 1,200 votes in the last two elections combined.  This is going to be very close.  Armstrong is running for re-election and is facing Democrat Ozzie Fumo.  While the State Assembly is likely out of reach, with Democratic turnout going to be closer to 2012 than 2014 and more Democrats showing, they should be able to flip this seat.  An interesting subplot in this election is that Uber is trying to help Armstrong win re-election.
  10. Nevada State Assembly District 35: Yet another playbook that I’m interested in watching.  The Democrat, James Healey, was able to win election in 2012 by a little less than 1,000 votes over Republican Tom Blanchard.  In 2014, Healey, running as an incumbent lost to Republican Brent Jones by 745 votes.  That’s a fairly decent swing from 2012 to 2014.  There’s a new Democrat running against the incumbent Jones.  The Democrat is Justin Watkins.  Again, what I’m interested in watching is the turnout returning to 2012 compared to 2014.  It’s possible that turnout alone isn’t enough to flip districts and state assembly districts.
  11. Question 1: Nevada is trying to enact more background check measures for gun sales and gun transfers.  Nevada is fairly “conservative” on guns rights issues.  This measure would require firearm transfers to go through a licensed gun dealer who would then run a background check.  There would be some exemptions including transfers of guns between family members and law enforcement agencies. Michael Bloomberg has spent a lot of money on this initiative and would obviously like to see it passed. Most elected Republicans and the Nevada Republican Party oppose this measure.
  12. Question 2: This measure would legalize recreational use of marijuana for individuals who are 21 or older.  This is opposed by most elected Republican officials in Nevada. Sheldon Adelson is also spending quite a bit of money to try and oppose this measure.   He also used the newspaper that he owns to oppose the measure in an editorial.  Support of the measure has consistently led in polling but it seems like it’s going to be fairly close.