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Southern Nevada congressional races remain close; Amodei wins

Updated November 9, 2022 - 7:02 pm

President Joe Biden told a White House news conference Wednesday that three Democratic congressional incumbents in Nevada have won re-election to the House of Representatives, although state officials said ballot counting will continue throughout the week.

“In Nevada, we’ve won all three of those seats,” Biden told reporters of contested Democratic seats in the state that figured prominently in both parties’ plans to win control of the House.

The president’s declaration drew immediate rebuke from Mark Robertson, a retired Army colonel and the GOP candidate challenging U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.

“It is premature for President Biden to declare a winner in NV-01. There is still a path to victory,” Robertson told the Review-Journal.

Biden acknowledged Democrats are likely to lose control of the House, but he noted that the predicted a “red wave” based on rejection of Biden administration policies did not materialize, as demonstrated by what he saw as the outcome in Nevada.

Still, the president tacitly acknowledged that he must now work with GOP leaders over the next two years to pass legislation to help the country battle global inflation and economic woes as the United States continues to recover from the pandemic.

Amodei wins, others closer

Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei cruised to an easy re-election Wednesday while the three Democratic congressional incumbents were locked into close races with GOP challengers.

Amodei was declared the winner by the Associated Press over Democrat Elizabeth Mercedes Krause and two third-party candidates.

Democratic congressional incumbents, meanwhile, faced stiff challenges.

Titus, seeking a seventh term in Congress, was challenged by Henderson businessman Robertson and Libertarian Ken Cavanaugh.

With early votes counted, Titus had 50.5 percent of the votes, Robertson, 47 percent and Cavanaugh, 2.3 percent.

An unknown number of mail-in ballots have yet to be received and remain to be counted.

Titus, in a statement, acknowledged there were more votes left to count but said: “I am humbled by the outpouring of support from across the district so far, and we are confident about where things are headed.”

Robertson said there was still a path to victory for him.

“There are 45,000 mail-in or drop-off ballots to count. For me to win, I need 58 percent of those to vote for me,” Robertson told the Review-Journal.

Democrats, though, were optimistic that their candidates would benefit from the outstanding mail-in or drop-off ballots still to be counted.

The Southern Nevada races, including the 3rd District, were considered too close to call by the Associated Press.

Hopes on Becker

Republicans were eyeing a potential upset in the 3rd District where GOP real estate lawyer April Becker was trying to unseat Democratic incumbent Rep. Susie Lee.

Lee, in a statement, said election officials have said it could take days to count ballots. “While we’re eager to find out the results of the election, we continue to wait patiently.”

With some early votes counted, Lee was barely leading Becker, 50.7 percent to 49.2 percent.

Republicans were hoping a “red wave” and historical midterm trends that disfavor the incumbent president’s party would help them pick off a Nevada Democratic seat in their quest to win control of the House of Representatives.

Republicans, nationally, need only to flip five seats to win back the gavel they lost in the 2018 midterm elections during the Trump era.

Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., was expected by election analysts to fare better in Nevada Congressional District 4 than his Democratic colleagues in the Las Vegas Valley but still faced a competitive race against Air Force veteran Sam Peters.

With early votes counted, Horsford held a lead, 52.6 percent to 44.3 percent. The district spans parts of Clark County, but also Nye County and other rural areas in the central part of the state.

Safe seat

Amodei was heavily expected to win re-election in the reliably “red” Nevada Congressional District 2, which includes Reno and northern portions of the state.

Amodei won a seventh term defeating Krause, Libertarian Darryl Baber and Russell Best, the Independent American Party candidate.

Amodei was leading Krause 60.8 percent to 35.6 percent. Best and Baber had roughly 1 percent, each, when the race was called.

Amodei defeated perennial GOP candidate Danny Tarkanian in the Republican primary in June to position himself for re-election in the solid red district. Tarkanian narrowly won a Douglas County Commission seat in 2020.

Redistricting by the Democrat-controlled Legislature diluted the once solidly “blue” congressional district that Titus has held for more than a decade. New lines were drawn to shift more Democratic-performing precincts to the 3rd District to shore up Lee.

Instead, the Legislature’s redrawing made District 1 competitive in a year that favored Republicans, who have seized on the nation’s economic woes and global inflation.

Biden’s low approval rating, particularly in swing states such as Nevada, created headwinds for Democrats already battling historic trends that favor the party that does not hold the White House.

Biden never campaigned in the state for Nevada congressional Democrats or U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., who was locked into her own battle with Republican Adam Laxalt, a former state attorney general endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

‘Turnout game’

Independent political analysts said the dynamics of the election cycle would make the outcome more the result of enthusiasm among party and independent voters in Nevada.

“It’s a turnout game more than anything else,” said J. Miles Coleman with the University of Virginia Center for Politics and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball, an election analysis newsletter.

In the run-up to the election, Lee huddled with officials and members of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 at the MGM Grand for a get-out-the-vote rally for Democratic candidates.

The union, the largest in Nevada, knocked on more than 930,000 doors with a goal to reach 1 million voters by Election Day, according to Bethany Khan, a Culinary spokesperson.

Republican and Democratic surrogates have stumped across the state for congressional candidates and incumbents in the Las Vegas Valley, where television, radio and social media are saturated with negative political attack advertisements.

In North Las Vegas, Horsford took part in a horse parade on Saturday to build enthusiasm in neighborhoods in his sweeping congressional district, which spans Mesquite to Pahrump and central Nevada counties.

Peters, a retired Air Force major, also was in North Las Vegas, knocking on doors and seeking support in the vote-rich portion of the congressional district.

On The Strip, Titus appeared Saturday at a Starting Line painting party at the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix Fan Fest, one of many events that signify continued growth of the sports entertainment industry.

Robertson, meanwhile, campaigned in Henderson with Laxalt where the candidates spoke about their plans to fight inflation, crime and address border security.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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