WASHINGTON — National Democrats voiced confidence Friday that they will hold two open Nevada congressional seats in their bid to take back control of the House of Representatives.
“Nevada is going to be a good state for us,” said Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The DCCC has identified 104 battleground districts, up from 60 two years ago, in their effort to flip 24 Republican seats and take the lower chamber of Congress. Republicans have held the advantage in the House since 2011.
Democrats are defending about 20 seats, including two in Nevada that became open when Rep. Jacky Rosen launched a Senate bid and Rep. Ruben Kihuen abandoned re-election following allegations of sexual misconduct.
Republicans see those two seats as possible pickups, and leaders in both parties expect close races in Nevada.
The National Republican Campaign Committee is targeting the open Nevada seats as part of 36 Democrat-held districts that are part of a strategy to “achieve the overall goal of keeping Republicans in control of the House.”
Lujan touted Democratic frontrunners in party primaries for the Nevada open seats. He said philanthropist Susie Lee is working hard in Congressional District 3 and former Rep. Steven Horsford could set up a rematch with another former representative, Republican Cresent Hardy, in Congressional District 4.
“Steven Horsford’s numbers look good and Cresent’s numbers don’t look good in a match up with Steven. We are going to hold that seat,” Lujan said.
Lee is running against Las Vegas businessman Danny Tarkanian, who was a GOP candidate for the Senate until President Donald Trump nudged him out of a Republican primary with vulnerable Sen. Dean Heller.
Tarkanian, who has lost six previous races, including a narrow defeat in the District 3 race against Rosen in 2016, has raised a substantial amount of funds. Lujan downplayed Tarkanian’s chances.
“I don’t think Danny Tarkanian is going to do well in this election,” Lujan said.
Jack Pandol, a National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman, said Lee and Horsford winning their primaries would give the GOP a chance to pick up two seats.
“Democrats are running a tone-deaf socialite with 17 homes and a private plane, and a DC lobbyist who hasn’t been seen or heard from in Nevada since 2014,” Pandol said of Lee and Horsford, respectively.
The Cook Political Report, which provides nonpartisan, independent analysis, rates the Nevada District 4 race as “Likely Democrat,” and the District 3 race as “Leans Democrat.”
Midterm elections have historically favored the party without the White House, and Democratic predictions of a “blue wave” in 2018 have been buoyed by Trump’s historically low approval ratings and Republican departures in the House, including Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision not to seek re-election.
“There is more energy,” Lujan said of Democrats, “and people are getting more involved.”