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Supreme Court contenders Herndon, Fumo headed to general election

Updated June 10, 2020 - 5:20 pm

In a race for Nevada Supreme Court Seat D, Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo and District Judge Douglas Herndon appeared to be headed to a general election in November, according to tentative primary results posted early Wednesday morning.

The Nevada secretary of state’s office website showed that Herndon had captured 120,921 votes, equal to 46.52 percent, in the statewide race, while Fumo collected 83,547 votes, with 32.14 percent. A third candidate, Erv Nelson, garnered 28,936 votes, with 11.13 percent.

However, the results from the mail-in ballots delivered to voters because of the coronavirus pandemic are incomplete and are not expected to become official for at least a week.

Herndon, who received an 85 percent retention rating in the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s 2019 Judicial Performance Evaluation, was first appointed to the lower court bench in 2005. He served as the chief judge of the District Court’s criminal division from 2010 to 2017, leading a team of four judges who handle the most serious criminal cases in Clark County.

Reached Wednesday, Herndon said he was “ecstatic” with the early primary returns and “incredibly happy that we came out the way we did.”

He said he thought the results showed that voters were seeking a candidate with judicial experience.

Before taking the bench, Herndon was a prosecutor for 14 years in the Clark County district attorney’s office.

Fumo has practiced criminal and civil law in Nevada since 1996, and Herndon was licensed in the state in 1991.

First elected to the Nevada Legislature in 2016, Fumo has practiced criminal and civil law in Nevada since 1996. He was appointed by Clark County commissioners to serve as a hearing master for a police fatality fact-finding review board. He is also an adjunct professor at the UNLV Boyd School of Law, and a partner in the boutique law firm Pitaro & Fumo.

After the preliminary results posted Wednesday, Fumo said he was “looking forward to getting our message out… what the people of Nevada want is a person who can be fair.”

In what factors to be one of the richest judicial campaigns of the year, Herndon had received more than twice as much in campaign contributions as Fumo through the months leading up to the primary. As of April, Herndon had raised more than $338,000 for his campaign, while Fumo had raised more than $152,000, according to the secretary of state’s campaign finance figures.

While both candidates said the coronavirus pandemic slowed campaign fundraising efforts, they added that they expected the numbers to rise again as businesses reopened across the state.

The winner of the race will fill the position being vacated by Justice Mark Gibbons.

Supreme Court Seat B

In a second race for the high court, incumbent and Chief Justice Kristina Pickering is expected to retain her seat. Pickering, who collected more than $118,000 in campaign contributions, received 57.97 percent of the votes counted thus far, according to the state website.

She was challenged for Seat B on the high court by Las Vegas attorney Esther Rodriguez, who raised more than $77,000 for her campaign and garnered 19.87 percent of the vote, results showed. A third candidate, attorney Thomas Christensen, did not raise any money but collected 13.82 percent of the vote.

Pickering attended law school at Georgetown University and the University of California, Davis, King Hall School of Law. She was first elected to the high court in 2008.

Pickering began her career as law clerk for U.S. District Judge Bruce Thompson in Reno. She then entered private law practice and handled complex civil litigation at both the trial and appellate level in Reno and Las Vegas before her election to the Nevada Supreme Court.

In a recent interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Pickering said she strives to be “neutral and well-prepared” when she analyzes cases and issues decisions.

Supreme Court justices earn about $170,000 per year.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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