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Republicans gain in Legislature; Trump narrows loss to Biden

Updated November 14, 2020 - 4:58 pm

President-elect Joe Biden’s lead in Nevada over President Donald Trump narrowed slightly to 33,596 votes after the final batch of some 65,000 provisional votes were tallied and reported Saturday.

Biden’s current margin of 2.39 percentage points is very close to Hillary Clinton’s 2.42 point margin of victory over Trump in Nevada in 2016. The results are considered final but unofficial until the canvass of votes happens Monday where the count will be certified.

While Trump lost the state, Republicans performed well down ballot, including wins that netted them four seats in state Legislature and coming just 10 votes shy of having a Republican on the Clark County Commission for the first time in more than a decade.

County Commission

No race in the state proved closer than the contest for Clark County Commission District C.

Democratic former Secretary of State Ross Miller, who overtook Republican Las Vegas Councilman Stavros Anthony last weekend, saw his lead cut to just 10 votes as of Saturday, a lead of 0.006 percentage points in the race that drew more than 153,000 votes.

“My campaign manager, Jim Ferrence, was modeling and predicting a single-digit victory all week. I’m just relieved that I won by a double-digit blow out,” Miller said in an interview Saturday.

Noting how tight the race was, Miller said that the 50.003 percent of the vote he won “is not much of a mandate to walk into office.”

“Half of the district saw a different vision for it,” Miller said. “But that’s why I got back into politics. I’m a moderate elected official and I think it’s time that we got to work on bringing people back together.”

Anthony’s campaign manager, Lisa Mayo-DeRiso, said in a statement Saturday morning that they were glad to have made up more than 550 votes in the provisional ballots, and hinted that the campaign could request a recount given how tight the results are.

“We are looking at all the options available to us in order to ensure that the ballot count is accurate,” Mayo-DeRiso said.

Candidates have three days after the votes are certified — which will happen after the canvass of votes on Monday — to request a recount.

Legislature

Republicans picked up four seats in the state Legislature — three in the Assembly and one in the Senate.

Republicans will still be the minority party in both houses, but the three seats Republicans won in the Assembly break the Democrats’s supermajority in the lower chamber heading into the 2021 legislative session where addressing the budget, the COVID-19 pandemic and redistricting will take center stage.

The closest of those races was Assembly District 37 between Democratic incumbent Shea Back and Republican Andy Matthews. Matthews’ lead had narrowed since Election Day, but held firm at 657 votes, or 1.8 percentage points, after the last batch of votes came in Saturday morning.

“It’s a great feeling and it’s an honor to have the chance to go and represent the District 37 residents and be a voice in Carson City for the principles I campaigned on,” Matthews said Saturday. “It’s a good day, and I’m looking forward to the road ahead.”

Republican Richard McArthur comfortably defeated incumbent Democrat Connie Munk in District 4, winning the seat, which he lost in 2018, by 5 percentage points. As did Republican Jill Dickman in Washoe County’s District 31 race against incumbent Skip Daly, who won the seat she had previously held by 3.4 percentage points.

Barring any changes, Democrats will still hold majorities in both houses: 12-9 in the Senate, and 26-16 in the Assembly.

For Republicans, the gains in the Assembly were a payoff from a more narrow and focused approach than in years past, an effort spearheaded in large part by Assemblyman Tom Roberts, R-Las Vegas, and Assemblywoman Jill Tolles, R-Reno.

They focused on only the seats that had voter registration margins within 5 percentage points, which were Districts 2, 4, 29, 31 and 37. Republicans won all but one of those races, with the outlier being AD 29, where incumbent Democrat Lesley Cohen fended off Republican Steven Delisle by a 2.4 percentage point margin.

“This cycle, the Assembly Republican Caucus was determined to do things differently and use its limited resources wisely,” Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus, R-Wellington, said in a statement. “Our narrow and methodical approach allowed us to focus on winnable races to get out of the super minority.”

Democratic Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, said in a statement that he was glad that Democrats defended their majority in the chamber, and noted another key milestone that the state’s diverse Legislature hit with this election — that the nation’s first female majority Legislature from 2019 will head into the next session wtih an even greater number of female lawmakers.

“Our caucus is eager to roll up their sleeves and work with anyone who is willing to help move our state forward,” Frierson said. “I also want to thank all our poll workers, county registrars, volunteers, and all our elected representatives who ensured we were able to successfully run a safe election during a global pandemic.”

On the Senate side, Republicans picked up one seat with Carrie Buck defeating Democrat Kristee Watson by 329 votes.

Watson had held a narrow lead in the race as more mail ballots were counted after Election Day, but the final provisional ballots gave Buck a roughly 500 vote swing, and a margin of victory of roughly 0.5 percentage points.

The vote swing was not quite as strong in Senate District 6, where Democratic Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro held off Republican April Becker by 631 votes, a margin of 1 percentage point.

Question 1

Ballot Question 1, which would have removed the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents from the state constitution, narrowed the margin with provisional ballots, but will still fail by a very slim margin of 49.85 percent to 50.15 percent. The margin was about 3,700 votes out of 1.2 million cast.

NSHE Regent Jason Geddes said he was happy to see the measure defeated, but said that the underlying issues that led to the ballot measure “are some things that NSHE needs to work on with the legislators.”

“There are definitely issues that have popped up over the years that haven’t been resolved appropriately,” Geddes said. “The Legislature is the ultimate authority, and we need to make sure that we’re working with the Legislature in an appropriate way.”

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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