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Politics and Policy

More than 50 Candidates Vie for Nevada's Four Congressional Seats

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U.S. Capitol

In Nevada, more than 50 people are running for the state’s four Congressional seats, but only a handful of them will make it past the primary onto the general election ballot. KUNR’s Paul Boger spoke with Yvonne Gonzalez with the Las Vegas Sun to break down those races.

Let's go ahead an chat a little bit about CD4, which covers a lot of rural Nevada including Nye, White Pine, Mineral and parts of Lyon Counties. That seat is being vacated by Rep. Reuben Kihuen who's not seeking reelection in light of sexual harassment allegations. So, it's my understanding that there's a whole slew of folks running for that seat.

The Democratic primary is very interesting because you have a former office holder. You have Steven Horsford who used to hold the seat. He’s an obvious favorite. He’s gotten a lot of attention and an endorsement from Joe Biden and he’s raised a quarter-of-a-million dollars, so he’s the clear frontrunner. But there’s a lot of really well known Democrats running in that races who have been running for a long time now.

Newcomer to politics, Amy Vilela, is making her presence known on a Meidcare for all platform. She has a really compelling story. She jumped into politics because of her daughter’s death over a situation with insurance and she didn’t get the care that she needed according to Vilela. So she ended up dying from what Vilela says was a preventable death. She wants to push to close all of the gaps in healthcare so that people have access to care.

She’s also running against Pat Spearman who’s a powerful force in the state legislature and she’s a really great public speaker. She really engages with voters and she’s very much pushing the idea that it’s time for qualified women in politics to step-up and not hold back or wait for someone else’s turn but take the positions they’re qualified for. That’s the Democratic side of the race. 

On the Republican side, Crescent Hardy -- the guy who beat Steven Horsford in the 2014 election -- is trying to regain that seat after losing it in 2016 to Reuben Kihuen. Does he face a tough primary? 

Not particularly. He’s the known entity in that race. It’s unclear where he stands on fundraising, right now, because of where the data is in FEC reporting. He is facing some lesser-known people in that race, and they obviously have to contend with he has incredible name recognition in that district.

So, let’s talk about Congressional District Three, which covers Southern Nevada exclusively. That’s turned into a more interesting race then it otherwise would have been with the entrance of Danny Tarkanian into that race instead of the Senate race. What are you thoughts?

Yeah, absolutely. Trump basically cleared the path for Heller and his Senate race, or at the very least, made his primary much less contentious by asking Tarkanian to run in a Congressional district. So, Danny Tarkaninan is now running in Congressional District Three and he quickly raised a bunch of cash as soon as he walked the door of that race. State Senator Scott Hammond has been in that race for a while now too. He’s doing pretty well in fundraising, and he is the architect of the Education Saving Accounts Program and he helped establish the Nevada Opportunity Scholarship program and things like that. It’ll be interesting to see how those help or hinder him in the election since the ESA’s are unfunded currently. Then Michelle Mortenson is in the race. She’s a former reporter. She’s very much using a lot of the Trumpian language that’s been out there, talking about the liberal media and things like that. She and Tarkanian are very much in line in terms of their language and the way they’re campaigning. It’s very much in the Trump era. It very much fits in.

It’s funny to me that we’re talking about these really contentious elections with Congressional Districts One and Two, which includes all of Northern Nevada, are so safe for Dina Titus and Mark Amodei, respectively.

Yeah, they’re fairly safe. They really are. In District One, shoe could stay there for ever, I guess. She’s been in the district for a while. It’s relatively safe. There are more than 131,000 registered Democrats in the district, and it includes the Strip. So she basically has the core of that Clark County Democratic section of the state. For Congressional District Two, Mark Amodei, is obviously the favorite in that race. He’s ahead in fundraising and he’s also fairly safe.

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