You’ve never met him but his face certainly looks familiar. And you probably know his name but just can’t place it. He gets that all the time – but just lately.
That’s what $515,000 in campaign contributions buys a local-election candidate when party control of the Legislature is at stake.
None of the 73 other Clark County candidates running for the Legislature came close to Hutchison, each accruing $89,000 in contributions on average, just one-sixth of his total.
But Hutchison is a nobody, a political newcomer in a sea of 74 faces running for the Legislature. Still, this candidate for state Senate District 6 attracted mountains of cash from not only local and state groups, but national companies to which he has no connection.
Walgreens, Smith’s Food & Drug Stores, Home Depot, Centurytel, the National Rifle Association, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. The list goes on.
He thought it might happen, but didn’t plan for it. He was chosen.
“I knew, going into this, District 6 would be one of the key races,” he said Friday after returning from a local elementary school, shaking the hands of parents there to pick up their kids.
In 2008, his Republican district flipped to a Democratic senator, as did District 5 in Clark County, giving control of the state Senate to the Democrats. The Democrats also control the Assembly, giving them dominance over the entire Legislature.
But the chances of Republicans gaining control of the Assembly are slim. The Democrats control 26 seats to the Republicans’ 16 seats.
In the state Senate, on the other hand, Democrats only have an 11-10 advantage.
For that reason, it’s no surprise that half of the $2.78 million given to Republican candidates was funneled to Hutchison and three other Republican state Senate candidates, leaving the 33 other GOP candidates to fight over the scraps.
Steve Kirk, for District 5, has received $288,000; Mari Nakashima, for District 9, has $346,000; and Scott Hammond, for District 18, has $193,000. In all cases but one, these Republicans running for state Senate are better off than their opponents.
Hutchison’s Democratic opponent, Benny Yerushalmi, is well funded at $252,000 but far behind the exposure Hutchison’s funding affords him. Hutchison estimates having mailed more than 250,000 fliers, which doesn’t include his highway billboards and more.
With Hutchison receiving so much attention, contributors have all but ignored the other Republican candidates.
In Senate District 4, Republican Linda West has just $16,000 compared to $209,000 raised by Democratic rival Kelvin Atkinson.
In Senate District 7, Patricia Marsh has $1,680 compared to $107,000 raised by David Parks, a Democrat. The same can be seen in the Assembly, where Democratic incumbent Marcus Conklin in District 37 accrued more than $435,000 compared to Republican Wesley Duncan’s $131,000.
While the Republicans are making an effort to flip four state Senate seats, Democrats seem to be keen on the rest of the races and have put $1.02 million more behind their candidates.
But, Hutchison contends, it’s not just Republicans pulling the strings by heaping contributions onto his campaign.
“Some have told me they don’t want Republican or Democrat control,” he said. “They just want to see balance.”
A Republican state Senate and Democratic Assembly would force the parties to work together, which is a good thing, he said.
Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at
email@example.com or 702-383-0279.