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Legislative primary races Southern Nevadans should know about

Gov. Joe Lombardo may not be on the ballot in November, but his effectiveness in the state’s rulemaking process could be.

The Republican governor has spent thousands and thrown his support behind several Republican candidates for the Nevada Legislature in a bid to block a veto-proof Democratic majority in the Assembly and Senate.

Democrats held 13 seats in the 21 member Senate last session, just one seat away from a supermajority. In the Assembly, Democrats held a supermajority, holding 28 seats out of 42.

Republicans would need to maintain their current seat count in the Senate or pick up just one seat in the Assembly to block a Democratic supermajority.

Contests between Republican and Democratic candidates will be determined by voters in November’s general election, but that doesn’t mean voters should ignore June’s primary races, some of which will determine the winner of the seat.

Here are some of the most interesting primary contests for seats in the Legislature.

Senate District 1

Senate District 1, which covers a portion of North Las Vegas, is up for grabs after Sen. Pat Spearman termed out.

North Las Vegas Assemblywoman Clara “Claire” Thomas, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2020, will face fellow Democrat Michellee “Shelly” Cruz-Crawford.

Cruz-Crawford serves as a regent on the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents, a position she was first elected to in November 2022.

The Democratic Senate Caucus threw its endorsement behind Cruz-Crawford over the assemblywoman.

The winner will face Republican candidate Patricia Brinkley in November.

Senate District 3

In a hotly contested primary that pits an incumbent senator against a Culinary Workers Union Local 226-backed candidate, Sen. Rochelle Nguyen is set to face off against Geoconda Hughes in June.

Hughes works as a cardiovascular and intensive care nurse.

The Culinary Union backed Hughes’ run after Nguyen voted for a bill that removed a COVID-era requirement for daily room cleanings, legislation that was staunchly opposed by the union.

Some unions have followed Culinary’s lead in endorsing Hughes, including Teamsters Local 986 and the Nevada State Education Association. But other groups have backed the incumbent senator, including the Democratic Senate Caucus, IBEW Local 357 and Clark County Education Association.

The winner will face Republican Brent Howard and nonpartisan candidate Keya Jones in November.

Senate District 4

Senate District 4, which covers part of North Las Vegas, will know its winner sooner than most other races. Only Democratic candidates filed to run, meaning the winner of the primary will automatically take the seat.

June’s primary for the seat will see Sen. Dina Neal, who has held the seat since 2011, face off against Regent Laura Perkins.

In a last minute move, Perkins withdrew from her bid for reelection as regent and filed to run in the race on the last day of filing.

Neal is currently under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations after the Review-Journal reported that she allegedly used her influence to push a federal grant towards a friend.

Senate District 18

In Senate District 18, three Democrats and three Republicans will vie for their party’s votes to advance to the general election.

On the Republican side, Clark County Fire Chief John Steinbeck, who was endorsed by the governor, is facing entrepreneur Josh Leavitt. Leavitt is endorsed by the district’s former representative, Sen. Scott Hammond, who vacated the seat late last year ahead of being termed out.

Republican Assemblyman Richard McArthur, who represents a northwestern portion of the valley, ran for a state Senate seat in 2012.

On the Democratic side, Donald Connors, Iman Joseph, and Ronald Bilodeau are running for the seat.

Senate District 19

Senate District 19, a large district including portions of Clark, Elko, Eureka, Lincoln, Nye and White Pine counties, is open because Sen. Pete Goicoechea will term out in November.

Running in the deeply red district is Former Assemblyman John Ellison, who served until he was termed out of the Assembly in 2022, was endorsed by Gov. Joe Lombardo.

Ellison faced criticism earlier this year after he referred to former employees as “colored people” during an interview.

The race also includes veteran and healthcare executive William “Bill” Hockstedler” and Nye County School Board Trustee Chelsy Fischer.

The winner of the June Republican primary will win the seat outright.

Assembly District 7

Vacated by former Assemblyman C.H. Miller, Assembly District 7’s winner will be determined in June.

The Democratic primary will see caucus-backed Tanya Flanagan, a former Review-Journal reporter and one-time candidate for county commission, battle it out for the seat against James Fennell III.

Fennell, a member of Teamsters Local 361, ran unsuccessfully for Assembly District 14 in 2020 and again in 2022.

Assembly District 10

The Democratic primary for Assembly District 10, vacated by former Assemblywoman Sabra Newby, will see three candidates face off.

The race includes Venise Karris, a retired electrician backed by the caucus, and Valerie Thomason, a political organizer endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America.

Kyle Greenwood, who formerly ran against Assemblyman Howard Watts III in District 15, is also running for the seat as a Democrat.

The winner of the primary will face Libertarian Sean Moore in the general election.

Assembly District 17

Assembly District 17 – which opened after Assemblywoman Claire Thomas opted to run for a seat in the state Senate – will see a Democratic primary between a caucus-supported candidate and a candidate backed by the Culinary Union.

Food server and Culinary Union leader Linda Hunt, Air Force veteran Mishon Montgomery, who is backed by the Assembly Democratic Caucus, and nonprofit director Chauntille Roberts will face off in June.

The winner will face Republican candidate Robert Olson in November.

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on X.

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