Incumbent Democrat Brittney Miller, a Clark County middle school English teacher, faces Republican Mack Miller, a self-employed business consultant and strategist, in the Assembly District 5 race in southwest Las Vegas.
The incumbent is seeking her third term. Her challenger ran for the seat in 2018 and for Las Vegas mayor last year. They are not related.
In his previous runs for office, Mack Miller has had to answer for a 2007 military court finding of guilty to charges that he deserted fellow Army soldiers in Iraq. He has twice unsuccessfully appealed the ruling and continues to dispute the verdict, but acknowledges now that his military career “didn’t end well.”
“I want to make sure that people know is that the past is the past and the future is the future,” he said. “My job is to represent the people of this state, and the decisions I make are not just for Assembly District 5.”
Brittney Miller takes an unpaid leave from her teaching job to serve in the Assembly. In the 2019 session, she successfully sponsored legislation to require the state Board of Education to set specific class sizes. She said the Legislature “accomplished what we were called into special session to do” over the summer.
Mining tax controversy
One of the partisan controversies of the second special session was a Democrat-backed push to change how the state taxes the mining industry. Democrats were unable to win passage of the changes over Republican opposition and instead passed measures that would put the question before voters as soon as next year.
Brittney Miller said that was “the right approach” given the brevity of the special session.
“I really believe for those issues it’s better during regular session, when we have time to really do a deep dive and analyze such a robust issue, and to do it with all the stakeholders at the table and the public,” she said.
She said she is optimistic that the state’s challenging economic and financial outlook will improve between now and the start of the 2021 session.
“We do have more businesses and industries open,” she said. “We do have casinos open, people are still coming and visiting Las Vegas. This is completely different than late spring-early summer, where it was almost a complete shutdown. I believe we will continue on that path.”
Mack Miller said he opposed the Democrat push on the mining tax, along with changes to election procedures to expand mail-in voting in November, and another bill that revised procedures for police officers facing non-criminal misconduct charges.
He said he backed vote by mail but believes that voters “should request that ballot” rather than receive it automatically from the state. The move on the mining tax was opportunistic, he said.
“It’s easy to go after mining because they’re like, well, no one knows anything about mining, right? So let’s go ahead and hit them hard and tax the hell out of them in advance,” he said. “I think it’s wrong. …You fix a shortfall by budgeting accordingly and pulling back from that budget….The last thing we need is to be raising their taxes.”
He jokes that the only time he felt discriminated against was when he “came out” as a Black Republican. Police officers accused or convicted should be punished, he said, “but don’t penalize the entire law enforcement community because of it, and don’t take away their rights.”
Democrats hold a comfortable 3,300-vote advantage over Republicans in the district, comprising 40 percent of active voters compared with 31 percent for Republicans and 24 percent for unaffiliated voters.