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Hope springs eternal in races

In politics as in baseball, spring is the season of hope.

More than 450 politicians and political wannabes filed for nearly 130 Clark County and statewide public offices listed with the county Election Department and the Nevada secretary of state as of Friday at 5 p.m. — the statewide filing deadline.

Each one has reason to think he or she is poised to be a big political hit but by election day more than two of three will have struck out.

“I feel my chances are as good as any of them,” said Garn Mabey, a Republican and former Nevada Assembly minority leader from Las Vegas who filed Friday to join more than 20 others seeking to bump off U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat. “I will not go to my grave saying I didn’t try.”

In another bit of last-minute maneuvering Michele Fiore, who had been campaigning against incumbent state Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, switched gears and jumped into the Republican primary to challenge Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

Republican committee member Bob List said that the party leaders in Nevada sent a “rule 11” letter in support of Fiore to the Republican National Committee. Such a letter says the state party would welcome national party support for Fiore in the primary, even though there are other Republicans in the field.

“It basically says the leaders of the party in Nevada are prepared to support her,” List said. “That sends a signal to the (political action committees) and contributors around the country.”

List agreed when asked whether backing Fiore also achieves the goal of clearing the way for Nolan’s GOP candidacy. He said the party sees Nolan as a strong contender and the move for Fiore from the legislative race to the congressional race serves the Republican Party’s purposes at the state and national levels.

But in the wake of Fiore’s move Elizabeth Halseth, who had been seeking the Assembly seat being vacated by Chad Christensen, filed instead to run against Nolan in the primary.

Two Republicans already in the primary for Berkley’s congressional seat were displeased to hear state Republicans were backing a newcomer to the race but undaunted by the challenge.

One of the jilted Republicans, Craig Lake, says state Republican chairman Chris Comfort tried to talk him into filing for secretary of state. Lake said he wouldn’t budge.

“I’m running against establishment politics and that includes Democrats and Republicans,” he said. “I’m not seat-shopping.”

Candidate Joseph Tatner said: “It would have been nice if the state would have let those of us who are running know about it.”

Comfort did not return a call for comment.

After all the maneuvering, 11 candidates, including Berkley, had filed for the congressional race. The race for the congressional seat held by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., attracted nine candidates, including Titus.

Six candidates are running for the congressional seat held by Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., including Heller.

Reid’s U.S. Senate seat is by far the biggest prize on the ballot and has attracted 25 candidates, including Reid. The next most prestigious post on the list is governor of Nevada, a job that has 11 candidates seeking to replace incumbent Republican Jim Gibbons, including Sen. Reid’s son Rory Reid.

Competition for statewide constitutional offices below governor is strangely thin, considering those jobs are often a springboard to the political big leagues.

No one with statewide name recognition is threatening to knock incumbents out of the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, state controller or attorney general jobs.

“Some of the statewide races, nobody really emerged,” said David Damore, a political science professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “It seems like the incumbents outside the governor are going to get a walk.”

One legislator also caught a lucky break.

Assemblyman Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, can start his victory party early in his campaign to win the state Senate seat being vacated by termed-out Sen. Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas.

That’s because the filing deadline passed with no one else signing up to seek the seat, leaving Denis as the only unchallenged legislative candidate in the state.

“It is a relief,” said Denis, who has been in the Assembly since 2004. “I will still go out and talk to my constituents. They need to hear from me.”

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Reporters Laura Myers, Ed Vogel and Kristi Jourdan contributed to this report

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