2012 PRIMARY ELECTION: Balance of power up for grabs with electorate split, races tight


That’s what the 2012 election is about nationwide and in Nevada.

Several key federal and state races in the Silver State could determine which party emerges as the majority political power in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and the Nevada Legislature.

The upcoming June 12 primary election is a prelude to the major fight for control in the Nov. 6 general election, when the White House race between President Barack Obama and the presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney promises to affect races up and down the ticket.

There is one certainty: The country is so divided – on issues ranging from how to lift the economy out of recession to whether to mandate health care insurance – that neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party is expected to come out of the election with a major political mandate.

"Regardless of the outcome, you’re going to see a lot of razor-thin majorities," predicted Dave Damore, political science professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "Everything is in play, which makes it very tough at the national level" to govern with so much political bickering.

U.S. Senate, congressional races

The Democrats, led by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., now control the Senate 53 seats to 47, but they’re defending far more seats in 2012 than are the Republicans. The GOP must pick up at least four Senate seats nationwide to win a bare majority and oust Reid, a real possibility.

That’s why the stakes are so high in one of the most closely watched Senate contests in the country between U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev. Both Heller and Berkley are expected to win their respective June 12 primaries, where each faces minor competition.

Heller is defending a Republican seat. He was appointed to the Senate last May after U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., resigned following an extramarital affair and ethics investigation.

Heller and Berkley are at opposite ends of the political spectrum, giving voters a real choice. They also come from different parts of the state, making this a North-versus-South contest, too.

It’s possible the Senate will end up in a 50-50 seat tie. Such a result would give the elected vice president the tie-breaking vote, adding even greater importance to the outcome of the White House race.

Democrats are expected to pick up at least a dozen seats in the House, cutting the current Republican majority of 242-190 by one-third to one-half, depending on how well or poorly Obama does.

In Nevada, four House seats are up for grabs, including two with incumbents and a new one in Southern Nevada that the state earned because of population growth over the past decade.

The Northern Nevada 2nd Congressional District seat held by U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., is expected to stay in GOP hands. And Berkley’s safe Democratic seat in Southern Nevada, the 1st Congressional District, is likely to be won by former U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.

U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., is slightly favored to hang onto his 3rd Congressional District, a battleground where neither party has the advantage in voter registration. He probably will face Democratic challenger Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, the party choice favored over his primary opponents.

The most competitive House race is for the new 4th Congressional District, which leans Democratic by voter registration. That gives the edge in November to Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, the well-funded party choice.

Nine Republicans are competing for the chance to face Horsford, including Danny Tarkanian, state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, businessman Dan Schwartz and Ken Wegner, a popular GOP veteran.

In the end, analysts predict the four House seats will be split 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans.

Legislative races

The Nevada Assembly, now controlled 26-16 by Democrats, isn’t expected to change party hands.

Control of the Nevada Senate, however, is in play as Democrats defend a slim 11-10 majority.

Two GOP state Senate primary battles in Clark County could be decided by thin margins, and any lingering bitterness from the losing candidates might help Democrats in the general election.

The closest race may be for the new District 18 Senate seat in northwest Las Vegas. Assemblyman Richard McArthur is taking on Assemblyman Scott Hammond.

Hammond has the support of the Senate Republican Caucus, but retired FBI agent McArthur is a hard campaigner who has vowed to visit every Republican home in the district. Hammond doesn’t have as much free time, working at his teaching job in Indian Springs until the school year ends.

McArthur is the more conservative candidate. He voted last year against extending $620 million in taxes for two more years, while Hammond voted for the extension agreed to by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

In District 18’s Democratic primary, Kelli Ross, the wife of Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Ross, has an advantage in name recognition over Donna Schlemmer.

In the Senate District 9 race, tea party supporter Brent Jones is battling Mari Nakashima St. Martin, the former state GOP spokeswoman endorsed by the Republican Senate Caucus.

Jones believes his campaign is catching on and that he will defeat St. Martin. Like McArthur, he questions why the Senate Republican Caucus endorsed his primary opponent, contending the party should stay out of the endorsement business until the general election.

The winner probably will face Democrat Justin Jones, who with the endorsement of the Senate Democratic Caucus is favored over Frederick Conquest.

Senate Democrats are not expected to have close legislative primaries. But District 1 Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, is being branded as too moderate by political newcomer Patricia Spearman, who may be narrowing the gap in their race.

Spearman, a gay minister, is the darling of progressive groups upset that Lee voted against domestic partnerships and sponsored a Lake Tahoe bill opposed by environmentalists.

In recent months, Lee forced the Higher Education System of Nevada to rethink how they fund universities and community colleges in Southern Nevada, a popular idea. It may be tough for a political unknown like Spearman to beat him. The winner probably will advance to Carson City in 2013, since the only general-election opponent is an Independent American Party candidate.

Review-Journal Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel contributed to this story. Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Follow @lmyerslvrj on Twitter.

Tate Elementary shows academic progress after categorical funding
Students at Tate Elementary in Las Vegas has benefited from a program to boost education funding in targeted student populations, known as categorical funding. One program called Zoom helps students who have fallen below grade level in reading. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
Jesus Jara State of the Schools address
Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara delivers his State of the Schools address on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Naft sworn in to Clark County Commission
Michael Naft, chosen by Gov. Steve Sisolak to be his replacement on the Clark County Commission, was sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas police piecing together details of fatal shooting
Six hours after the fact, Las Vegas homicide detectives worked to reconstruct the scene of a shooting early Jan. 7 that left one man dead in the southeast valley. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dyer Lawrence explains college football playoff system proposal
Las Vegan Dyer Lawrence has a new idea for a college football playoff system that includes a unique scheduling component called National Call Out Day. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death row inmate Scott Dozier found dead in his cell
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier is dead. Dozier’s death ends his legal odyssey, which began in 2007 when he was convicted in the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller, but does little to clarify what’s next for Nevada’s death penalty.
I-15 southbound near Primm closed after ‘major crash’
A rollover crash Saturday morning involving at least nine vehicles on southbound Interstate 15 near Primm caused an hourslong traffic delay. Traffic was backed up to Sloan, live traffic cameras show. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death Valley visitors deal with shutdown
Visitors staying at the Furnace Creek Campground were forced to move from the campground following health and safety concerns due to lack of resources during the partial government shutdown at Death Valley National Park in Calif., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal @vegasphotograph
Half of homicides in Henderson for 2018 domestic violence related
Lt. Kirk Moore of the public information office of the city of Henderson police department speaks to the Review-Journal in Henderson, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Henderson saw a slight increase in homicides in the past year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak stops by Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak kicks off his tour to Carson City, which will take him from Las Vegas, through Tonopah, and up to the capital city. First stop is the Downtown Boys & Girls Club.
Certificates for renewing wedding vows in Clark County
The Marriage License Bureau in Clark County began issuing a Certificate of Vow Renewal to married couples who are renewing their wedding vows on Jan. 3, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas flu season better than last year (so far)
Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief medical officer and director of clinical services at the Southern Nevada Health District, said there were 24 flu-related deaths at this point in the flu season. No deaths have been reported so far this year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Las Vegas Valley’s First Baby of 2019
The first 2019 baby in the Las Vegas Valley was Melialani Chihiro Manning, born at 12:10 a.m. at Henderson Hospital. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Sources: Henderson Constable may face more charges
Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell may face additional charges ... stemming from his spending of county funds, sources said. Mitchell was indicted earlier this month on five felony theft and fraud charges ... after a Las Vegas Review-Journal story questioned his spending. But grand jury records show even more extensive spending including ... an $800 dinner at steakhouse ... nearly 200 atm withdrawals mostly at gambling establishments ... and even Disneyland tickets. But his attorney plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges.
Las Vegas NYE Restrictions and Enhanced Security
If you are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street, be aware that you are not allowed to bring backpacks, coolers, strollers or glass. There will also be an increase in security to ensure safe celebrations across town.
Catholic Charities serves up 53rd annual Christmas dinner
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and more than 100 volunteers served 1,000 Christmas meals to Southern Nevada's homeless and less fortunate. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @kmcannonphoto)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jeffrey Martin Added To Nevada's Black Book
Martin was one of four men convicted of theft and cheating at gambling in 2016 in Clark County District Court and sentenced to prison. The Nevada Gaming Commission voted unanimously Thursday to include Martin in the black book.
Raiders Stadium Timelapse
Construction on the new Raiders stadium continues in Las Vegas.
Buffalo Wild Wings security video
Security footage from a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in southwest Las Vegas captured a driver who repeatedly crashed into a vehicle in a failed attempt to squeeze into a tight parking spot.
The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
Opportunity Village's Magical Forest added 1 million lights and a synchronized music show visible from all over the forest this year. The holiday attraction, which began in 1991, has a train, rides, food and entertainment along with the light displays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like