Heck holds $1 million over Bilbray in Nevada CD3 race

WASHINGTON — Rep. Joe Heck has widened the money gap to close to $1 million over challenger Erin Bilbray in the weeks leading to Nevada’s June 10 primary election, according to newly released documents.

Heck, a Republican seeking a third term representing the 3rd Congressional District, reported holding at least $1.37 million in his campaign fund as of May 21, the end of the most recent financial reporting period for the Federal Election Commission.

That’s almost $1 million more than Democrat Bilbray, who said she had $387,376 available as the race continues to take shape.

Heck is running unopposed in the primary. Bilbray, a political consultant and Democratic National Committeewoman who was recruited by Washington party leaders to run against Heck, faces small-businessman Zachary Campbell, who has raised no money.

The anticipated Heck-Bilbray matchup in November is the most closely watched race for federal office in Nevada. The 3rd District, which consists of Henderson, Boulder City and unincorporated Clark County south and west of Las Vegas, is closely divided among Democratic and Republican voters.

Besides what the candidates’ money will buy, the race is expected to draw substantial advertising paid by groups outside the state. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce already has run television ads in support of Heck.

Bilbray, who retooled her campaign after a slow start, was thrown a curve ball this week when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, one of the fundraising arms of the national Democratic Party, failed to list her race among 36 it began to reserve television airtime for commercials into the fall.

Democrats did not explain why the Nevada race was passed over, but said it remained possible that it could be added later.

“Erin Bilbray is running a strong campaign,” said DCCC Communications Director Emily Bittner. “Over the course of the cycle, as races develop, the DCCC traditionally continues to expand investments in races across the map.”

Republicans cheered at what they called a Bilbray snub. “National Democrats have given up on Erin Bilbray’s embarrassing campaign for Congress,” said party spokesman Tyler Houlton, who also pointed out that the House Majority PAC, another leading group tied to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, also is not reserving airtime on Bilbray’s behalf.

Democrats in Nevada maintain other groups will be stepping forward to supplement Bilbray’s spending. A poll memo released by Bilbray this month showed her trailing Heck 39 percent to 31 percent, but with potential to close the gap if she can raise enough money to broadcast her message.

“We’re confident we’ll have the resources we need to be successful in November,” said Bilbray campaign manager Erica Prosser.

In other federal races:

— Two Republicans facing off in the primary for the 4th Congressional District have raised similar amounts.

Conservative civil rights activist Niger Innis has raised $195,000 and still had $65,583 available to spend, while Assemblyman Cresent Hardy raised $190,259 and had $54,830 still on hand.

The primary winner likely would start the general election at a financial disadvantage to Democratic incumbent Rep. Steven Horsford, who reported $279,719 in his campaign fund and no primary opponent in the district that includes North Las Vegas and parts or all of six rural counties.

— Two Republicans in the primary in the 1st Congressional District of urban Las Vegas have had to dig deep for financial support.

Dr. Annette Teijeiro loaned her campaign $100,000 and has raised another $20,000. Attorney Jose Padilla has raised $40,000 and loaned himself $5,000.

The primary survivor would enter the general election as an underdog to incumbent Democratic Rep. Dina Titus, whose political fund contained $235,867 to campaign in the heavily Democratic district.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at STetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Find him on Twitter: @STetreaultDC.