Twenty-eight votes are all that kept Democrats from seizing a supermajority in the Nevada Legislature — and the ability to pass tax increases without any Republican support.
Barring any potential recounts, Democrats netted two new seats in the state Assembly to take a 29-13 seat lead in the chamber.
Two-thirds of the seats are needed for a supermajority, which is 28 seats in the Assembly and 14 in the Senate.
In the state Senate, Democrats needed to pick up each of the closely contested races of Senate districts 8, 9 and 20 — all three of which elected Republicans in 2014. Democrats took districts 8 and 9 relatively easily Tuesday night.
But in Senate District 20, Republican Keith Pickard eked out a win over Democrat Julie Pazina by 28 votes, or 0.05 percent, after all of the ballots had been counted Wednesday.
In Nevada, any tax increase or new tax needs a two-thirds vote in both chambers.
If the governor were to veto a tax increase, lawmakers could override a veto with another two-thirds vote.
Democrat Steve Sisolak won the governor’s race Tuesday night, defeating Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt.
Had Pazina won SD 20 and Democrats taken a full supermajority in both chambers, Republicans would have been effectively powerless to stop Democrats from passing any tax increase or change.
But the battle for the lone Senate seat deciding the supermajority’s fate may not be done quite yet. In races that tight, it’s not uncommon for the loser to ask for a recount.
The Senate Democratic Caucus did not respond Wednesday to requests for comment about whether they will request a recount.
Pickard, however, said he fully expects Democrats do so once the results are certified.
“I’d be frankly surprised if they didn’t,” Pickard said Wednesday.
And SD 20 might not be the only legislative seat that finds itself in a recount situation this year.
Republican Assembly Caucus Leader Jim Wheeler said the caucus is looking at potential recounts for both Assembly Districts 4 and 37, which saw GOP incumbents defeated by first-time Democratic candidates.
In District 4, Republican Richard McArthur lost by 116 votes to Democrat Connie Munk. And in District 37, Democrat Shea Backus defeated Republican Jim Marchant by 133 votes.
“Personally, I’m leaning towards a recount,” Wheeler said Wednesday. “We’ll talk to the attorneys and see if there is any reason for us to pay for a recount.”
There’s also the business of filling the seat won by Dennis Hof. The infamous Nevada brothel owner died last month, but he still appeared on the ballot and won Assembly District 36 with 63 percent of the vote.
The district has boundaries in Clark, Nye and Lincoln counties, so elected officials from all three jursidictions will be tasked with selecting Hof’s replacement to fill the two-year term.
Hof was a Republican, and state law requires legislative vacancies to be filled by a person of the same party. Counties will soon start accepting applications from interested candidates.