Surrounded by her family, Democrat Erin Bilbray on Tuesday filed to run for Congress against U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev.
She said Nevada voters are seeking a change in Washington where Republican and Democratic lawmakers are often gridlocked on important issues from immigration to jobs.
“People are tired of the dysfunction in Congress,” Bilbray said. “They want new energy.”
Last week, Heck, 52, filed for re-election to the 3rd Congressional District, which covers Henderson and much of unincorporated Clark County. He’s seeking a third two-year term in the Southern Nevada district that has switched political parties several times since its 2000 creation following the U.S. Census.
Bilbray, 44, is a Democratic consultant who said she never thought she would run for public office.
“But I kept watching my neighbors, my friends lose their homes, lose their jobs and I was watching as the Congress was doing nothing to help my neighbors and friends,” Bilbray said. “And so I finally said that somebody is going to have to do it and that’s going to be me.”
Asked what her priorities would be if she won, Bilbray said, “Creating jobs and making sure that we have a middle class that’s not just surviving, but is thriving.”
In a show of support, Chris Miller, chairman of the Clark County Democratic Party, paid Bilbray’s $300 filing fee. He’s the fist openly gay chairman of the party, which Bilbray noted as she expressed support for gay marriage.
“It’s two people who love each other — it’s equality,” Bilbray said.
The topic has become so widespread that her 8-year-old daughter, Daisy Kohn, asked about it, Bilbray said.
“‘I wish MLK were still alive,’” Bilbray said her daughter told her, referring to slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. “‘I really think he would really help with this thing.’”
Bilbray said her daughter knows “a lot” of kids at school who have two fathers or two mothers.
Bilbray was accompanied by her husband, Noah Kohn, and their daughters, Caroline, 11, and Daisy, as she filed paperwork at the Clark County Elections Department. She’s the daughter of former U.S. Rep. James Bilbray, D-Nev.
Bilbray also backed extending unemployment payments for Nevadans who haven’t been able to find jobs. Nevada’s unemployment rate is 8.8 percent, a couple of points higher than the national rate of 6.7 percent.
“I know too many families … are dependent on this,” Bilbray said, adding they’re unemployed “through no fault of their own.”
Candidate filing opened March 3 and closes Friday.
Contact reporter Laura Myers at email@example.com or 702-387-2919. Follow her on Twitter @lmyerslvrj.