Former state Treasurer Dan Schwartz announced Tuesday he will run against freshman Democratic Rep. Susie Lee for the 3rd Congressional District in 2020.
In an interview following his announcement, Schwartz said his most important reason for joining the race was what he characterized as Democratic attacks on a free-market economy.
“Susie Lee marches in step with (Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and the democratic socialists,” Schwartz said. “They want to undo the most successful economy in the world and maybe in history.”
Schwartz served as treasurer from 2015-19 before mounting an unsuccessful primary challenge to then-Attorney General Adam Laxalt in the 2018 gubernatorial primary. He previously ran for Congress in the 4th District in 2012 and finished fourth in a Republican primary that saw Danny Tarkanian secure the nomination. Lee defeated Tarkanian in the 3rd District in 2018.
He also owns a digital media company that operates in Asia, Europe and the United States. Schwartz is a U.S. Army veteran.
Lee’s campaign responded to the announcement in a statement saying “the last thing Southern Nevada needs is a rubber stamp” for President Donald Trump’s agenda.
“Congresswoman Lee is confident that her bipartisan, problem-solving efforts to increase public education funding, lower health care costs, and advocate on behalf of Southern Nevada veterans will continue to resonate with voters” her campaign said. “Dan Schwartz, on the other hand, has been overwhelmingly rejected even by his own party in multiple elections.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also attacked Schwartz in a statement.
“Schwartz’s long history of Nevada’s voters rejecting not only him but his values time and again says all you need to know about how Nevada voters really feel about another Schwartz candidacy,” spokesman Andy Orellana said.
The National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Torunn Sinclair said the party does not comment on specific campaigns until after the primary election, which is in June. In February, Lee’s district was among the initial 55 announced as 2020 Republican targets.
The 3rd District, which includes Summerlin, Green Valley and Boulder City, currently is nearly evenly divided, with 36.3 percent Democrats, 34.7 percent Republicans and 23 percent registered as non-partisan.
But while not commenting on Schwartz’s candidacy, the Republican congressional organization did denounce Lee.
“Susie Lee’s refusal to stand up to her socialist Democrat colleagues in Congress will cost her this congressional seat,” Sinclair said. “If Lee won’t disavow Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and impeachment — she’s supporting it.”
Sinclair said Trump carried the district in 2016, and the party expects a similar turnout this election cycle.
In his interview, Schwartz criticized the Democratic-controlled House for being unable to pass a budget, saying party leaders can’t agree on anything that would offend its far-left members. He criticized the Democratic party as a whole for moving further to the left.
“Just watch the presidential debates,” he said. “It’s basically a race to see who can give out the most free stuff.”
Schwartz said the Republican party could also do a better job marketing itself as an advocate for capitalism.
But Schwartz claims he isn’t your typical Republican. He says he supports universal preschool and pay raises for teachers — two key points in many 2020 Democratic presidential candidate platforms — as well as educational tracking, saying he doesn’t understand why more Republicans don’t come out in favor of these ideas.
“Having been the treasurer and ran the college saving accounts — these are not partisan issues,” Schwartz said. “I think they’re just tired of big government, and I agree with that, but there are ways to do it.”
Schwartz said that while he opposes most of the Affordable Care Act and particularly its individual mandate, he supports its protections for pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26.
He said the Republican tax plan was a boon for corporations, which he would not change, but he feels the party could do more for the middle class in its tax laws.
When asked if Trump’s tenure would affect his campaign, given Lee’s victory as part of a 2018 Democratic anti-Trump surge in the House, Schwartz said he wasn’t sure.
“I think it did play a role in the last election. There was a lot of anti-Trump feeling in the district,” Schwartz said. “I support our president. He is running for president, and I am running for Congress. My platform is that I oppose what Pelosi and the democratic socialists are trying to do to our country.”