Freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Heck will defend his House seat in November against Democratic challenger John Oceguera, the departing speaker of the Nevada Assembly.
The two men easily won their parties’ separate primaries Tuesday, setting up the 2012 battle for Southern Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, where no incumbent is safe. The district is evenly split between voters registered with the Democratic and Republican parties, making each election a dogfight.
Two years ago, Heck barely beat then-U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat who in 2008 defeated the previous incumbent, Jon Porter, a Republican.
Heck, at his campaign headquarters, slammed Oceguera for voting for two of the largest tax increase in Nevada history. "So there is a fundamental difference on how we approach trying to control our debt and balance our budget. One is by controlling spending. The other is by increasing taxes. I think that is going to be a clear choice."
Oceguera, who celebrated with fellow Democrats at a new party campaign headquarters in Henderson, criticized Republicans for backing big business and the rich and not the middle class.
"We know this election won’t be about party politics. It will be about priorities," Oceguera said.
Heck overwhelmingly defeated his sole GOP opponent, Chris Dyer, a supporter of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a GOP presidential candidate who has a libertarian following. Incoming returns showed Heck with slightly more than 90 percent of the vote compared with about 10 percent for Dye r.
Oceguera beat five Democratic opponents, all little-known and with fewer funds than the party’s pick to go up against Heck in the general election.
Returns showed Oceguera with 50 percent of the vote.
The losing Democrats included Stephen H. Frye, James Franklin Haning II, Jesse "Jake" Holder, Barry Michaels and Gerald "Jerry" Sakura.
Tom Jones of the Independent American Party and James Thomas Murphy Sr., a nonpartisan candidate, also will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
There wasn’t much excitement in two other Nevada congressional races.
■ In the 1st Congressional District in urban Las Vegas, Chris Edwards easily beat five Republicans battling for the right to face former U.S. Rep. Titus. She had no primary competition in the district that is 2-to-1 Democratic by voter registration. She is expected to easily win the Nov. 6 general election.
Returns showed Edwards with more than 48 percent of the vote , far ahead of the other GOP contenders, including Brian Landsberger, Charmaine Guss, Herb Peters and Miguel "Mike" Rodrigues.
Libertarian candidate William G. "Bill" Pojunis and Stan Bryan Vaughan of the Independent American Party also will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
■ In the 2nd Congressional District covering Northern and rural Nevada, U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., faced no GOP primary competition for the safe Republican House seat.
Samuel Koepnick beat Xiomara Rodriguez in a close race for the Democratic nomination, with Koepnick gaining 40 percent of the votes ahead of Rodriguez and Sam Dehne in the rear.
"I have no false impressions; this is a heavily red district," Koepnick said. "I think I can make Amodei work for it."
Russell Best of the Independent American Party and Michael L. Haines, who is registered as an independent candidate, also will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Review-Journal writers Lawrence Mower and Ben Frederickson and Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel contributed to this report. Contact reporter Laura Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2919. Follow @lmyerslvrj on Twitter.2012 PRIMARY ELECTION
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