The outcome of the three critical seats which will decide which party controls the Nevada Senate won’t be decided until November, but early primary results Tuesday showed Republican efforts to handpick primary candidates in two swing seats succeeded.
Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson held a comfortable lead in his own primary in District 20 in Henderson against fellow Republican Carl Bunce, who ran former Texas Sen. Ron Paul’s presidential race in Nevada. Roberson, an attorney who as a lawmaker advocated raising mining taxes, will compete against Democrat Teresa Lowry on Nov. 4.
Roberson’s chosen candidates, relative unknowns Patricia Farley in Senate District 8 and Becky Harris in District 9, are expected to advance to the general election. The two women outspent their Republican rivals, but both used a campaign technique of avoiding questions from the news media. They campaigned through mailers, billboards and walked door-to-door, but refused interview requests. They also spent more than they raised.
Senate Districts 8, 9 and 20 are likely to decide whether Democrats keep their 11-10 majority and control the Senate or lose it to the Republicans. Farley and Harris both start with a financial disadvantage over their Democratic foes, who didn’t spend the bulk of their funds in the primary.
Roberson was forced to spend $235,000 to mount off Bunce’s attacks with attacks of his own, but was holding three-fifths of the vote.
In Senate District 8, three-term Democratic Assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero Loop, a retired educator, was cruising by her primary challenger, Garrett LeDuff by a 4-to-1 margin.
Farley, a first-time candidate and construction company owner, was nabbing her spot on the general ballot over Clayton Kelly Hurst and Lisa Myers, taking more than half the votes in the three-way race with 80 percent of the precincts counted.
Voters are expected to chose between Dondero Loop, Farley and Independent American Jon Kamerath on Nov. 4 for the right to represent the district in western Las Vegas almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.
In Senate District 9, also a four-year term, the goal was to become the Republican to challenge Democratic Sen. Justin Jones, who has represented the southeast Las Vegas district for two years. No minor party candidate filed.
An attorney, Harris spent $208,000 to head off the rest of the GOP pack, which consisted of Vick Gill, Ron Quilang and David Schoen. She was nabbing half the votes in the four-way race.
In a quirk of the law, Democratic Assemblyman Harvey Munford, a retired teacher, appeared to have won his re-election outright, taking 68 percent of the votes in incomplete returns. Only three Democrats filed. Under a law passed in 1989, in that situation, by winning more than 50 percent plus one, instead of two candidates advancing, one is declared the winner. Munford was far ahead of his closest challenger, Anthony Snowden.
If there were two candidates, they would advance to the general without a primary and nonpartisans and members of other parties would have a choice. Under this law, nonpartisans and those registered Republican are disenfranchised in the general election.
In Washoe County, Republican Assemblyman Randy Kirner hoped to win his third term with 50 percent plus 1, defeating Robb Archie and Lisa Krasner. So only Republicans would have had the chance to vote in District 26, and nonpartisans and Democrats would be disenfranchised by being unable to vote in November. But the returns suggested Kirner would face a runoff.
Assemblyman John Hambrick’s strategy of defeating Mark Slotta in the GOP primary and then sailing on to minor opposition from Independent American A. J. Maimbourg, who ran at his request, seemed to guarantee him a fourth two-year term as he held more than 70 percent of the vote.
Statewide, no legislative incumbents, Democrat or Republican, appeared to be losing in early returns.
The Bunce brothers didn’t have a good night. Richard Bunce, brother of Carl, was losing in his bid to unseat four-term Assemblyman Lynn Stewart in Assembly District 22’s GOP primary. Stewart, taking three-fifths of the GOP vote, now only faces Independent American Leroy Lalley in the district so heavily Republican, no Democrat filed.
Contact Jane Ann Morrison at email@example.com or 702-383-0275.