A dispute over the residence of Assembly District 9 Democratic candidate Andrew Martin boiled over Tuesday with a Republican campaign team led by Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey passing out fliers to voters alerting them to the controversy.
The awareness campaign by Hickey, R-Reno, came on Election Day less than 24 hours after Clark County District Judge Rob Bare ruled Martin’s candidacy invalid after his opponent, Kelly Hurst, R-Las Vegas, presented evidence from private detectives who said Martin hasn’t been living in his condo in District 9.
Clark County counsel Mary Miller said it’s unclear what weight the ruling will carry – Martin won in the heavily Democratic district, easily outpolling Hurst.
“We’re not really sure right now what will happen,” Miller said Tuesday. “In this case, the Assembly would decide the contest. I don’t know if they are bound by the judge’s decision because they have their own separate rules.”
Miller said Martin could appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, and Republicans will likely file a challenge in the Assembly.
She said there is no way for the Clark County Election Department to take action because Hurst filed the challenge late in the campaign.
“If they would have filed earlier in the year under the election statute, we could have taken some action,” Miller said.
Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax said he isn’t aware of a precedent for a judge’s ruling on a residency challenge in an Assembly race.
“I can’t recall this exact scenario playing out since I’ve been here,” said Lomax, who has been registrar of voters since 1999.
Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, wouldn’t say what might happen if Martin arrives in Carson City with the judicial decision clouding his eligibility.
“Given the fact this is possibly going to end up in front of the Legislature, I don’t think it is appropriate to comment,” Conklin said.
On Tuesday in Assembly District 9 at Batterman Elementary School, Hurst, the Republican candidate, and Dana Barooshian, Martin’s partner of 26 years, were stationed just two parking spaces from each other, trying to sway voters.
Hurst said after the judge’s ruling Monday, his campaign went from “under the radar to the limelight.”
He said, “The evidence is pretty clear Mr. Martin does not live in this district” and suggested “he should be out here apologizing to people.”
Barooshian said Martin plans an appeal and maintains he is “legally on the ballot and hopes there is a high standard of evidence if someone wants to vacate the election.”
“I know where I live – in the condo in the Vistana complex on Durango,” Barooshian said.
Hurst said his chances of winning “were great before but they’re better now”
Said Barooshian: “The people of Nevada like Andrew Martin’s message on the economy and jobs”
Election workers at Water of Life Lutheran Church said there have been no problems with the 350 voters who voted there.
Assembly District 9 covers an area south of Flamingo Road and west of Durango Drive in the southwest Las Vegas Valley. Hurst claims Martin lives in a home with his life partner outside District 9 boundaries, at 3317 Daylight Moss St., and not at the address of a condo he bought in December at 7159 S. Durango Drive, which is inside the district.
Bare based his ruling on evidence gathered by private detectives hired by Hurst who found that Martin recharged his Chevrolet Volt at the Daylight Moss address, where he also slept, changed clothes and kept home furnishings.
At Monday’s hearing, Martin testified he was using the Daylight Moss home, which he said he was unable to sell, as an office for work as an accountant.
Hurst said his lawyer, Frank Cremen, suspected Martin was still using the Daylight Moss home because that’s where he’d been sleeping and recharging his car.
After the hearing late Monday, Martin and his attorney, Bradley Schrager, said they had no comment other than to say they disagree with Bare’s decision and would appeal.
Review-Journal writer Benjamin Spillman contributed to this report. Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers
@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308.