Posts Tagged ‘state Senate’

State Senate Candidates Await Fate

By Sean Whaley | 2:46 pm November 5th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The precincts have been walked, the issues debated and the media campaigns run. Now many Nevada voters will get to weigh in on five critical races to determine whether Republicans or Democrats will control the state Senate after the polls close tomorrow.

The 21-member Senate currently has an 11-10 Democratic edge.

Gov. Brian Sandoval and many of his Republican colleagues are working to change this by winning at least four of five of the races in play between the two parties on Election Day tomorrow.

Sandoval, who is expected to push for further education reforms and other changes in the 2013 session, would love to have the leverage a Republican Senate would provide to help win passage of his agenda.

State Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas.

Democrats meanwhile, are working hard to hold on to or even increase their majority in the Senate, where they have been in control since 2008. The 42-member Assembly is expected to remain under Democratic control following the election.

Races to watch

Four of the five Senate seats in play are in Southern Nevada and the fifth is in Reno:

Senate 5, where Republican and former Henderson city councilman Steve Kirk is facing Democrat and former state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse;

Senate 6, where GOP attorney Mark Hutchison faces Democrat businessman Benny Yerushalmi;

Senate 9, where Republican Mari Nakashima St. Martin faces Democrat Justin Jones;

Senate 15 in Reno where Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, is running against former state Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno; and,

Senate 18, where Republican Assemblyman Scott Hammond faces Democrat Kelli Ross.

Republicans have a voter registration edge in Senate 15 and 18, while Democrats lead in the other three. There are a large number of nonpartisan voters in all five districts as well, however. How they vote could determine the outcome of the races.

Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said the top drawer candidates recruited by the Republican Senate caucus are all in a position to win on Tuesday.

State Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas.

“We’re right where we want to be, we’re right where we expected to be,” he said today. “We’re positioned to win all of these races. Whether we do or not the voters will tell us tomorrow.

“All of our races are very close,” Roberson said. “Some of them could certainly go either way. But we feel like we’ve done everything we can to put us in a position to be successful.”

The Republican candidates have been successful in attracting both Democrat and nonpartisan voters, he said.

“So I think you’re going to see a lot of ticket splitting; I think you’re going to see a lot of people who are registered Democrat or registered nonpartisan that come over and vote for our candidates,” Roberson said.

Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, was equally optimistic about the outcome for his Democratic candidates.

“Our take has always been that we were going to maintain and expand our majority,” he said today. “We went out and recruited some great folks and we’ve been out working hard on the ground since February, knocking on doors.”

The candidates and the caucus have raised the funds needed to fund competitive campaigns, and polling shows they are doing well with voters, Denis said.

“The registration numbers were great for us, and the early vote has been great for us,” he said. “So I feel real confident about our folks and how they’re going to do tomorrow.”

Early voting results statewide did favor Democrats, with 307,877 votes cast compared to 259,913 for Republicans. Not all of those votes came in the five Senate districts.

Republicans out raising Democrats in all five races

But the campaign funding race has favored Republicans, according to the Campaign Contribution and Expense forms filed with the Secretary of State’s office updated through Nov. 1.

Even so, all of the candidates have brought in and spent large sums since the beginning of the year, showing just out important both parties see the races.

The Brower-Leslie race alone has generated nearly $1.2 million in contributions combined since January.

In Senate 5, Kirk has raised $336,000 since the beginning of the year, but has spent $392,000. This compares to $243,000 for Woodhouse with nearly $267,000 spent.

In Senate 6, Hutchison has brought in just over $572,000 while spending nearly $520,000. Yerushalmi has raised $292,000 while spending $290,000.

In Senate 9, St. Martin has raised over $388,000 and spent $376,000, while Jones has raised nearly $313,000 and spent $297,000.

In Senate 15, Brower has almost $704,000 and spent $718,000, with Leslie bringing in nearly $483,000 and spending $500,000.

In Senate 18, Hammond has raised $214,000 and spent 208,000, while Ross reported just over $201,000 in contributions and $186,000 in expenses.

Roberson said a Republican majority in the Senate will bring more balance to the Legislature.

“And that’s going to encourage more bipartisanship, more cooperation, more collaboration,” he said. “And I think the end result will be better legislation, better public service for the people of Nevada, coming out of Carson City.”

Denis said he has a track record of working across the aisle with Republicans, and that his leadership will ensure bipartisanship and balance with the GOP.

“I think the balance has to come from leadership, and I’ve show that,” he said. “I know Sen. Roberson has said he wants to do that; he’s going to have to prove that with his actions. And so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll want to do that.”


Audio clips:

Sen. Michael Roberson says the Senate GOP candidates are positioned to win on Tuesday:

110512Roberson1 :23 to be successful.”

Roberson says Republicans will draw Democratic and nonpartisan voters:

110512Roberson2 :10 for our candidates.”

Roberson says a GOP Senate will encourage bipartisanship:

110512Roberson3 :18 of Carson City.”

Sen. Mo Denis says Democrats are poised to hold on to and even expand their Senate majority:

110512Denis11 :19 knocking on doors.”

Denis says he is confident the Senate Democratic candidates will do well Tuesday:

110512Denis2 :13 to do tomorrow.”

Denis says he has a track record of working with Republicans:

110512Denis3 :24 to do that.”


Democrats Outdo GOP In Voter Registration In July, Gain Ground In Five Critical State Senate Races

By Sean Whaley | 12:35 pm August 3rd, 2012

CARSON CITY – Democrats continued to outpace their Republican counterparts in voter registration efforts in July, the Secretary of State’s office reported this week.

Democrats registered 8,121 active voters, while Republicans registered 3,705 active voters. Active registered nonpartisans increased by 4,946 during the same time period.

Of the 1,096,782 active registered voters statewide, 41.1 percent, or 451,066, are Democrats, 36.7 percent, or 402,471, are Republicans, and 16.5 percent, or 180,366, are nonpartisans. The remainder belong to minor parties.

Photo by Tom Arthur via Wikimedia Commons.

The new numbers come as the Nevada Republican Party announced last week it is getting $166,000 from the Republican National Committee to intensify the party’s registration efforts ahead of the November general election.

The latest voter registration totals, released Thursday, also show that five critical state Senate Districts up for grabs in November remain split, with three continuing to favor Democrats and two continuing to favor Republicans.

But Democrats have gained some ground in terms of actual active voter totals in all five when compared to the numbers as of the close or registration for the June primary. The same trend is seen when the July numbers are compared to voter totals as of the end of March.

Nonpartisan voter registrations have also been on the increase in the five districts, however, both in terms of raw numbers and as a percentage of total voters from the primary through July. Nonpartisan voters, who will play a significant role in each of the races, range from a high of 19.4 percent in Senate 9 to a low of 15.8 percent in Senate 6.

Democrats now have an 11-10 edge in the state Senate, and Republicans are trying to take control for the 2013 session. Republicans need to win four of the five seats to take an 11-10 majority. Four of the five seats in play are in Southern Nevada and the fifth is in Reno.

In Senate District 5, where Republican and former Henderson city councilman Steve Kirk is facing Democrat and former state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, Democrats have added to their registration edge. Democrats had a 1,680 voter advantage as the close of registration for the June primary, and a 1,944 advantage as of the end of July. Democrats represent 40.3 percent of active voters in the district compared to 36.9 percent for Republicans.

In Senate District 6, where GOP attorney Mark Hutchison faces Democrat Benny Yerushalmi, Democrats had a 1,890 voter advantage at the primary, and now lead by 2,386. Democrats have 41.6 percent of active voters in the district compared to 37.5 percent for Republicans.

In Senate District 9, where Republican Mari Nakashima St. Martin faces Democrat Justin Jones, Democrats have improved their advantage from 1,917 voters at the primary to 2,354 at the end of July. Democrats have 39.8 percent of voters compared to 34.7 percent for the GOP.

In Senate District 18, where Republican Assemblyman Scott Hammond faces Democrat Kelli Ross, Republicans have seen their 1,653 voter edge as of the primary decline to 1,438 as of the end of July. Republicans have 40.2 percent of the voters compared to 37.7 percent for Democrats.

In the Reno race in Senate District 15 between Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, and former state Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, Democrats have gained some modest ground as well, from a 1,404 GOP edge as of the primary to 1,349 as of the end of July. Republicans have 39.8 percent of voters to 37.9 percent for Democrats.

Secretary of State Ross Miller also announced that online voter registration is now available in all but two counties, Carson City and Douglas.


GOP Primary Opponents Debate In Fiercely Contested State Senate Nine Race

By Sean Whaley | 8:09 pm May 31st, 2012

CARSON CITY – In the Republican quest to regain control of the state Senate in the 2012 general election, two GOP candidates in a bitter primary traded accusations today in a televised debate.

Whether GOP establishment favorite Mari Nakashima St. Martin or challenger Brent Jones wins the June 12 primary, the fiercely contested primary presents another challenge for Republicans to return to dominance in the state Senate.

GOP Senate 9 candidate Mari Nakashima St. Martin.

The issues aren’t taxes or education reform, but questions of judgment and personal responsibility. The candidates debated on the Face To Face television program.

St. Martin issued a press release raising questions about whether Jones took advantage of a mentally disabled man more than a decade ago by selling him two ostrich eggs for $30,000 to establish an ostrich farm. Jones, in return, has raised questions about St. Martin’s suitability for public office.

Jones’ claim, detailed today by the Las Vegas Sun, characterizes St. Martin as a “party girl,” on a website launched by Republicans United, a new political action committee with which Jones said he is unaffiliated. The site features pictures of St. Martin holding alcoholic drinks and socializing.

St. Martin’s criticism cites a Los Angeles Times article from 2000, which looked into Jones’ transaction with the mentally disabled man to buy the ostrich eggs.

In the debate, St. Martin said her campaign did create a website, called Freinds of Mari St. Martin, focusing on the civil lawsuit filed against Jones and others in order to “vet” the GOP candidates so that “fringe” and “marginal” candidates don’t win the primary and lose to Democrats in the November general election.

Jones has filed a lawsuit alleging defamation, saying the claims are false and defamatory. Jones said St. Martin’s campaign volunteers are telling voters wrongly that he was jailed for the civil case, which was settled.

St. Martin said her campaign is not making such calls. Volunteers are calling voters, she said.

Jones defended the website questioning St. Martin’s suitability for public office.

He also said St. Martin has no business experience, has never met a payroll, and has refused to sign the Taxpayer Protection pledge affirming a stand to reject tax increases.

GOP Senate 9 candidate Brent Jones.

“Those are the issues,” Jones said.

St. Martin downplayed the pictures, saying the characterization of her behavior suggests that young mothers are unqualified and unfit to run for and serve in public office.

St. Martin said she won’t sign any pledge, but that she supports transparency and lower taxes. She did not commit to support or oppose Gov. Brian Sandoval’s plan to extend a collection of tax increases set to expire on June 30, 2013, into the next budget cycle.

Jones said St. Martin’s equivocation on taxes is due to her support from the Senate GOP establishment, specifically Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, who voiced support for Sandoval’s decision to extend the sunsetting taxes into the next budget.

St. Martin said Jones’ comments show that he considers anyone “under the age of 40, and female, basically, is unfit and unqualified for office . . . ”

The Senate 9 District is vacant, with former Sen. Elizabeth Halseth, R-Las Vegas, having resigned from the seat.

The primary battle is draining energy and resources  in a contest that Republicans need to win to take the majority in the 21-member Senate where Democrats now have an 11-10 advantage. The winner will face another Jones, Democrat Justin Jones, who has received financial help from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.


Audio clips:

Senate 9 candidate Brent Jones says St. Martin is unqualified:

053112Jones :08 payroll; absolutely unqualified.”

St. Martin says Jones thinks young women are unqualified for public office:

053112St.Martin :12 the power brokers.”




Lawmakers Set To Release First Maps In Redistricting Process

By Andrew Doughman | 12:15 pm April 26th, 2011

CARSON CITY – State legislative Democrats plan to be the first to reveal their proposals for redrawing political boundaries of Nevada’s Assembly and Senate this Thursday.

Democrats will introduce maps of the proposed boundaries and then debate their suggestions together with Republicans in the Assembly chambers during the evening, said Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas.

The unveiling of the maps represents the first public look at what promises to be a contentious debate about the state’s political districts.

Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, said that the first maps will most likely show districts that reflect the Legislature’s current size of 21 Senators and 42 Assembly members.

As such, the maps should reflect a shift of one Senate seat and one or two Assembly seats to Clark County, reflecting the growth in population in that county. The Senate map may also show changes to the state’s two dual-districts, which Parks and others have earlier said will likely go extinct with this round of redistricting.

Senate and Assembly Republicans have not yet said whether they will join Democratic leadership in presenting proposed redistricting maps on Thursday.

“At this point we don’t have any maps to bring,” said Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Fallon.

Oceguera said he expects the Legislature to unveil and debate proposed Congressional maps sometime next week. Those maps will show the addition of a fourth Congressional district added to Nevada due to population growth during the past decade.

The proposed districts could affect many Nevadans. People currently living in predominantly Democratic districts could find themselves drawn into predominantly Republican districts. Rural Nevadans could find their voices drowned out by being in a largely urban district.

Nevada’s Legislature must redraw the boundaries of its political districts every 10 years with the release of U.S. Census Data.

GOP Primary Voters Could Chart Course of State Senate, Nevada Legislature

By Sean Whaley | 1:29 pm May 20th, 2010

Part 1 of 2 on Five Key State Senate Races

CARSON CITY – Over the past several legislative sessions the state Senate Republican caucus has shown a willingness to work across the aisle with Democrats, with some GOP lawmakers voting more than once for tax increases as a way to balance the budget.

Led by Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, Senate Republicans have often gone along with programs and policies pushed by Democrats in a spirit of compromise to finish the Legislature’s business every other year.

But this long-held practice could soon change.

Three of Raggio’s long-time allies in the Senate are being termed out of office and a fourth has resigned. Former Sens. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, and Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, are already gone, having resigned to take other jobs. A third senator loyal to Raggio, Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, will be replaced in the 2010 general election. Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, also resigned from the Senate.

Another Raggio colleague, Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, is facing a primary challenge from Elizabeth Halseth in his Clark Senate 9 re-election bid. Halseth calls herself a “true conservative” for Nevada.

These primary races all have something in common. They include Republican candidates who are, if you believe their campaign promises, far less likely to seek compromise with Democrats if they win in the primary and then general elections.

In four of these five cases, more moderate Republican primary challengers are also on the ballot, giving Republican voters a choice.

Republicans are expected to easily take at least two of the seats in the general election, and three of the five have sizable GOP voter registration edges over Democrats.

If voters decide to back the more conservative GOP candidates in the June 8 primary, the 2011 legislative session could see a far more confrontational relationship with Senate and Assembly Democrats over a multitude of issues, not the least of which will be taxes.

A conservative turnout in the primary might also shift the balance of power away from Raggio, potentially putting his position as current Senate minority leader in jeopardy. Rumors have circulated that Raggio, who is in his final term in the Senate, might step down before the 2011 session. He has denied these rumors, saying he will serve in his final session.

Raggio has served in the Senate since 1973, most often as the leader of the GOP caucus, either as majority leader or minority leader.

Early voting for the primary begins Saturday.

Janine Hansen, a long-time political activist with the Independent American Party, said she believes Republican voters will show up on election day and cast their votes for the true conservative candidates.

Republican voters are fed up with establishment candidates who have voted for tax increases and an ever-expanding government, she said.

Hansen, who is running as the IAP candidate for an Assembly seat in the Elko area, said some Republicans have left the party because true conservative candidates don’t get support from the powers that be.

“There is a chance for significant culture change in the state Senate,” she said. “I think it would benefit the public.”

Many observers says turnout will be a key in the contests. Lower turnout is generally viewed as favoring the more conservative candidates.

Pete Ernaut, a political consultant with R&R Partners, said there are too many variables at play to make any predictions about who will win in the contested Senate and Assembly races. The ability for candidates to talk with voters one-on-one plays a big role in such contests, he said. But Ernaut said he does believe turnout will be higher than many observers are predicting.

Several candidates also cite the adage that “all politics is local,” meaning that voters in each district may vote for a candidate based on local issues and concerns rather than some overarching conservative versus moderate theme.

Running in Washoe Senate 2 are Assemblyman Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, and Washoe County Commissioner Bob Larkin, viewed as the more moderate of the two candidates. There are also two Democrats in the race. The district favors the GOP by 2,000 voters based on active registration numbers as of April.

Running in Washoe Senate 4 are Assemblyman Ty Cobb, R-Reno, and former Gov. Jim Gibbons press secretary Ben Kieckhefer, again considered to be the more moderate of the two candidates. Two other Republicans, Todd Bailey and Frank Wright, are also running, but no Democrats are on the ballot. An Independent American Party candidate will be on the November ballot. The GOP has a 6,000 vote edge over Democrats in the district.

Running in the Capital Senate District are Assemblyman James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, and Steve Yeater. A Democrat and IAP candidate are also running but the district has an 8,000 GOP edge. Both Settelmeyer and Yeater, of Dayton, describe themselves as traditional GOP conservatives.

Running in Clark Senate 9 are Nolan and Halseth, along with three Democrats and an Independent American. The district has a nearly 4,000 Democrat voter registration advantage, however.

Running in Clark Senate 12 are Assemblyman Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, and newcomer Patrick McNaught, viewed as the more conservative of the two candidates. The registration balance in the district is virtually tied with Democrats. There is a third Republican, Steve Sanson, as well as a Democrat and IAP candidate, in the race as well.

The conservative Keystone Corporation, which says its goal is to recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential  state services, has endorsed Cobb, Settelmeyer, Halseth and McNaught. There was no endorsement in the Washoe Senate 2 race.

Keystone Treasurer Monte Miller said the Senate candidates endorsed by his organization were selected because they share the view that the public employee sector has not shared in the job losses, salary reductions, benefit reductions and other sacrifices made by the private sector in the current downturn.

“These candidates believe that public employees need to be part of the solution,” he said.

Essential government services can be preserved if public employee wages and benefits are put more in line with what is offered in the private sector, Miller said.

The endorsed candidates also agree that businesses cannot afford to pay more taxes. The “compromise” in the 2009 session led to a 97 percent tax increase on business, he said.

The trend seen nationally of voters rejecting candidates who don’t share these views will be in evidence in Nevada in the primary as well, Miller said.

“Compromise has to come from the other side of the aisle,” Miller said. “It’s our turn.”

Next: The Candidates Weigh In on Their Races

Washoe County Commissioner Announces Bid for State Senate Seat

By Sean Whaley | 6:43 pm January 4th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Washoe County Commissioner Bob Larkin announced today he is a candidate for the Nevada State Senate in District 2, saying he wants to continue the high level of service for residents of the district provided by outgoing Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks.

“Additionally, the budget challenges that the state now faces have been at the forefront of local government for many years now,” the Republican candidate said. “As chairman of the Washoe County Commission for an unprecedented 3 years, I oversaw the reduction of over $100 million in spending and the elimination of over 500 positions. I possess the academic background, work experience, and the pragmatism that it takes to get the right things done in Carson City.”

Washington is leaving office because of term limits.

Also running as a Republican for the Senate seat is Assemblyman Don Gustavson, R-Sparks. Larkin and Gustavson will face off in the June Republican primary.

Gary Schmidt, a 35-year Nevada resident who served a term on the Washoe County Board of Equalization, is an announced Democratic candidate for the Senate 2 seat.

Larkin said the legislative session of 2011 will have a full plate of issues, from redistricting to an examination of the statewide tax study now getting under way to an examination of ways to keep local and state government lean and efficient.

Larkin said the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission (SAGE) has provided many recommendations for increasing the cost-effectiveness of state government. As a lawmaker, Larkin said he would pursue legislation that would require implementation of the best ideas and recommendations from the panel of private citizens.

Larkin is a fifth generation Nevadan, born in Ely to Charles and Darlene Larkin. He and his wife Sylvia have three adult children and six grandchildren. He has resided in Sparks for the past 29 years.

Larkin said his philosophy is that government cannot and should not be all things to all people, but that it does have a responsibility to offer each and every citizen fair and equitable opportunities for a fulfilling life.

“I am ready and able to meet the duties of the legislative process in Carson City,” he said.