In one of the closest Nevada races of 2010, Republican challenger Joe Heck upset Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., in Congressional District 3.
Heck finished with 48.16 percent of the vote compared to 47.44 percent for Titus, a difference of 1,922 votes after all precincts reported.
Three minor party and independent candidates received a total of 11,749 votes, representing about 4.4 percent of the total votes cast.
After thanking his supporters at The Venetian shortly after midnight Tuesday, Heck briefly answered questions from reporters. He said he had spoken to Titus, and they will "work together for a smooth transition."
He said his first priority as a congressman will be to "bring jobs back to Nevada."
Titus, in an e-mail to supporters early Wednesday morning, wrote: "While the end result is not what we had hoped for, I am proud of the effort we put forth and I know we did everything we could, fought with everything we had, and we can hold our heads high."
The race was closer than projected. A Review-Journal/8NewsNow poll conducted last week showed Heck up 53-43 among likely voters. The FiveThirtyEight politics blog gave Heck a 90 percent chance to win going into Election Day.
Stu Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the Rothenberg Political Report, said Nevada's 3rd Congressional District has a history of voter volatility. Anti-Obama backlash was in the air this year just as pro-Obama fever had swept through the district in 2008.
"This was created to be a swing district," said Rothenberg of the seat, which was held by Republican Jon Porter for three terms before Titus won.
"It is a good place to test the national dynamics," he said. "Starting this year I think it was pretty clear this was going to be a competitive district."
In the closing days Titus benefited from Democrats' aggressive turnout, much of it in support of the re-election of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Titus also ran a hard-hitting ad in the closing days accusing Heck, in his role as workers compensation consultant to the Metropolitan Police Department, of denying claims from officers.
Lisa Oliva, 46, a property manager who usually votes Republican, cast a ballot for Titus and cited the police ad as a reason.
"The one ad that got me, that he lied to the police," Oliva said. "He is a liar."
Titus, 60, was only the second person to hold the seat, which was created after the 2000 census and covers parts of Las Vegas and surrounding suburbs.
A political science professor by trade, Titus was the state Senate minority leader for 18 years and the Democratic nominee for governor in 2006.
Heck, 48, is an emergency room physician, an Army reservist and owner of small consulting businesses. He served in the state Senate from 2004-08 and was defeated by a political newcomer in the Obama wave.
He initially launched a bid for governor but never got any traction with voters. He jumped from the gubernatorial race to the congressional campaign in October, 2009, after retired banker John Guedry dropped out of the federal race and Republican Brian Sandoval entered the gubernatorial fray.
Independent voter Stu Stringham, 41, voted Democrat in the U.S. Senate race and Republican in Congressional District 3, saying he thought Heck was a better candidate.
"I was never a Titus fan," said Stringham, a loan officer. "Heck is a veteran, he is a doctor and he was good when he was in Carson City."
A Titus backer, retired carpenter Allen Levy, 62, said it was unfair to blame the Democrat for Nevada's unemployment and economic woes.
"I wish there were a lot more jobs created," said Levy of Democrat-led efforts to stimulate the economy. "But to stand by and say we should have just done nothing, that is just absurd to me."
Michael Harty, 18, an independent, voted for Heck because he said he favors Republican candidates.
"I just agree with their policies more -- limited government," he said.
In the congressional campaign Heck leaned heavily on his professional experience during the campaign and downplayed his political experience. The tactic was designed to emphasize traits that could appeal to moderate and independent voters, such as compassion and competence.
Downplaying his term in the state Senate from 2004-08 also helped Heck define himself as an outsider during a cycle in which incumbents were being blamed for the ills of the national economy.
"This year is a very difficult challenging time to campaign," said Billy Vassiliadis, a longtime Nevada political consultant and Titus supporter. "This is a very, very angry electorate. This electorate is looking to send a message. They are looking for someone to blame."
Heck jumped on the blame bandwagon by constantly reminding voters Titus supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The former was opposed by a majority of Nevadans and the latter, even though it brought an estimated $2 billion to the state, was derided as ineffective by Republicans.
For her part Titus sought to emphasize her own efforts to help constituents cope with the foreclosure crisis while simultaneously portraying Heck as a kindred spirit of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who lost Tuesday night.
Her first televised campaign ad featured homeowners she helped make new mortgage deals with banks. But subsequent ads went after Heck.
Her campaign repeatedly emphasized a dubious allegation that Heck was unfriendly to women because he voted in the state senate to oppose a mandate to force insurance companies to cover a specific type of vaccine for a virus that can lead to cervical cancer.
A number of nonpartisan media watchdogs said the claim was misleading.
Ken Fernandez, a professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said Heck made Titus' efforts to portray him as extreme difficult by his performance in debates.
"He showed that he is a very reasonable, articulate, intelligent individual," Fernandez said.
Review-Journal writer Carri Geer Thevenot contributed to this report. Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3861.