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Nevada GOP Senate race: Where the race is at and what sets the candidates apart

Updated May 16, 2024 - 8:56 pm

All eyes will be on Nevada’s U.S. Senate race in the fall, when Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen is widely expected to face a tough bid for reelection in this battleground state. But before that can happen, Republicans must first select a candidate to go up against her in November.

A large field of Republicans are vying for attention, including Sam Brown, Jeff Gunter, Jim Marchant, Tony Grady, Stephanie Phillips, Ronda Kennedy, Bill Conrad, Barry Lindemann, Eddie Hamilton, Garn Mabey, Gary Marinch and Vincent Rego.

Throughout their campaigning, they have pointed to the economy, immigration and education as their top issues.

The presumed frontrunner is Sam Brown, a veteran who suffered third-degree burns in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb detonated under his vehicle. The Reno resident previously ran for Senate in 2022 but lost to former Attorney General Adam Laxalt in the Republican primary. He had also run for state legislature in Texas in 2014.

This election cycle, however, Brown secured the backing of Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo as well as national Republicans hoping to take over a Senate seat in the Democratic-majority chamber. Brown raised the most funds in the Republican primary, with more than $2.3 million in his war chest — which still pales in comparison with Rosen’s $13.2 million stockpile.

Although the Democratic senator has a large fundraising advantage, Rosen’s seat is considered a toss-up by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. In this era of partisanship, political candidates can expect to be tied to their presidential nominees’ success, said Dan Lee, a political science associate professor at UNLV.

Rival Republican candidates with neither national backing now coin are fighting are painting themselves as grassroots candidates and portraying Brown as a candidate from the “D.C. swamp” and the “establishment.”

Jeff Gunter, a dermatologist who served as ambassador to Iceland under the Trump administration, has tried to position himself as the most “America First” and MAGA candidate, saying he aligns most with the former president, who so far has stayed out of endorsing a candidate for Senate. In March, he announced a multi-million dollar ad campaign to fight frontrunner “Scam Brown,” a nickname the doctor has been using throughout the campaign.

Tony Grady, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, has traveled around the state to plead his case as to why he should be the next senator. The retired FedEx pilot previously ran for lieutenant governor in 2022, but came in second to Stavros Anthony in the primary.

Former Assemblyman Jim Marchant, who previously ran for Congress and secretary of state, losing to Rep. Steven Horsford and Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar, respectively, was one of the first to enter the Senate race, with the goals of preserving personal liberty and fighting government censorship.

Marchant has been a staunch election denier for years, claiming he was a victim of election fraud during his congressional bid, and serving as one of the “alternates” for the six Republicans who submitted fake electoral documents falsely declaring Trump the winner of Nevada in 2020.

Claims that there was mass election fraud in 2020 have been rejected by multiple judges, some of whom were appointed by Trump, as well as law enforcement and election officials, including then Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.

Marchant has cut back on his election-integrity related goals, if elected. In previous elections, he discussed getting rid of voting machines and returning to paper ballots in one single election day, but his website now focuses on support for voter ID and regular maintenance of voter rolls. He still maintains the 2020 election was stolen but promised to accept the primary results, win or lose.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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