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Longtime DA Campbell ousts incumbent Almase in Las Vegas judge race

Updated June 13, 2017 - 10:11 pm

A longtime prosecutor won a seat Tuesday on the Las Vegas Municipal Court, knocking off the incumbent after a race that turned unusual and contentious just days before the election, according to unofficial results.

Cara Campbell, a Clark County chief deputy district attorney and first-time candidate for public office, had collected 52.68 percent of the vote as of 9 p.m., according to the Clark County election website.

“Clearly, I’m happy and amazed by the results,” Campbell said, referring to “a lot of hard work from a lot of amazing people. I could not have done it without all their support. It was definitely a group effort.”

Heidi Almase, who sought her second six-year term, earned 47.32 percent of votes, a difference of 5.72 percentage points. The two were separated by 1,278 votes, the results showed.

A pair of decisions last week may have cost Almase re-election. Early last week, she posted a doctored photo that appeared to show her standing shoulder to shoulder with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson next to an endorsement. The next day, she delivered a mailer that drew widespread criticism from defense attorneys.

The flyer, which contained an image of a man’s hand over the mouth of a young girl, questioned how Campbell could be an impartial judge, “when she is married to an attorney who keeps criminals on the streets?”

Campbell’s husband is Josh Tomsheck, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor. Almase, who kept the name of her ex-husband, criminal defense attorney Cesar Almase, later fired her campaign manager, her second of this election cycle.

At the time, Almase said the mailer was delivered in the midst of a “highly contested campaign and after receiving multiple inflammatory mailers about my character.” She was referring to a campaign ad from Campbell that included anonymous quotes about Almase.

When early voting and absentee tallies rolled out Tuesday night, the two were neck and neck, and Campbell led by only 113 votes. The difference spread much wider after Election Day results came in.

Campbell earned a runoff in the general election after trailing the incumbent by only six points in an April primary. Her campaign went into overdrive as she hit the streets and her ads flooded print and social media. She had collected $176,769 as of last week, more than two-and-a-half times as much as Almase’s $72,931, for a job that pays $162,971.52.

As a municipal judge who will handle mostly low-level misdemeanor offenses, Campbell said, she hopes to prevent people from committing more serious crimes.

“You have to look at everything about a defendant, a crime, the facts,” she said. “I think I can do a lot of good. I just want to protect our community and keep Las Vegas safe.”

Almase could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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