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Hundreds of Candidates File For Office Ahead of June Primary

A sign with an arrow on it directs voters to the polls.
Tom Arthur
Wikimedia Commons
Voters in Nevada are expected to head to the polls in June to decide who will best represent their party in the November general election.

We’ve heard a lot about the presidential election this year, but it won’t be the only race on the ballot in November. Dozens of seats across the state are up for grabs in 2020 and as of Friday — the end of the candidate filing period — hundreds of people are vying for those positions. To help us break down that long list ahead of the June primary is KUNR’s Senior Political Reporter Paul Boger.

Zender: The primary election for some federal, state and local seats is coming up here in just a few months. What races will voters be deciding? 

Boger: There are dozens of seats up for grabs this election cycle. With no Senate or Judicial elections this year, the focus is on Congressional races, as well as the Nevada Legislature. The entire Nevada Assembly is up for election, as well as about half the state Senate. In Washoe County alone, voters can expect to see about 60 races in November.

Zender: Let's talk about the bigger races first. Republican Congressman Mark Amodei is running for reelection for his fifth term. How safe is his seat given the recent news that Washoe County officially has more Democrats than Republicans?

Boger: I think it’s safe to say that Congressman Amodei is fairly safe for the time being, at least as we head into the primary. He does have a Republican challenge from Joel Beck, who ran against him in 2018, but Amodei doesn’t have much to worry about there. On the Democratic side of things, it’s not so clear cut. It’s a crowded field with seven contenders vying to challenge Amodei in the general. The list includes some familiar names. Clint Koble is back. He was the Democratic nominee for CD-2 in 2018.

Zender: I also want to bring up Congressional District 4. That district is really only a few years old, but it’s already had an incredibly swingy history, right?

Boger: Created as a result of the 2010 census, the seat has already shifted hands four times. And it may very well trade hands again this election. It’s an incredibly large, broad, diverse district, ranging from North Las Vegas all the way north to Lyon and Mineral counties. This year, there are 15 people vying for the seat currently held by Democrat Steven Horsford. While he is facing a primary challenge, just like Amodei, I don’t seem him losing that election. On the Republican side of things, it’s fairly interesting. Former Assemblyman Jim Marchant has been running for that seat for about year now and he’s a fairly recognizable name in conservative circles. 

Zender: What about on the state level?

Boger: On the state level, we’re mainly talking about legislative races. Much like Congress, we vote for a new assembly every two years. As for the Senate, there’s really only one race in Northern Nevada that we're looking at and that’s for district 15, the seat currently held by Senator Heidi Gansert. She is not facing a primary challenge, but will likely face a tougher fight in the general election. I should also point out that this is an important year to pay attention to the makeup of the legislature. 2020 is a census year. That means, whoever Nevadans elect to the state legislature this year, will also be in charge of Congressional redistricting next year.

Zender: Local races, on the other hand, are not partisan. I mention that because a number of seats on the Washoe County School Board and Reno City Council are up for grabs this year. What happens in a primary like that?

Boger: You’ll see these nonpartisan elections down-ballot. As a matter of fact, everything that comes after county commission is considered nonpartisan. That includes the school board, city council, those special improvement districts. Those are all nonpartisan elections. In these races, it’s the top two vote-getters that’ll move on to the general. An interesting race to keep an eye on here in Reno City Council Ward 1. That’s Jenny Brekhus’s seat. She has three challengers in the primary, one of whom has already received support from Mayor Hillary Schieve. I also want to point out the recent inclusion of Danny Tarkanian in Northern Nevada politics. The perennial candidate from Southern Nevada recently moved to the Minden/Gardnerville area. He’s running for a seat on the Douglas County Commission.

Zender: One thing we haven’t talked about are logistics, given the current state of things in the world. Do you know what steps the state or counties will take to protect voters from COVID-19 as we head to the polls?

Boger: As of right now, I haven’t seen any changes to the state's elections protocol. The primary is still scheduled for June 9, and hopefully, this will all be behind us. If you’re concerned about going out and casting a ballot, voters in Nevada can vote by mail without an excuse. Meaning, if you contact your county registrar’s office, you should be able to make that request online.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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