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What to know about Nevada’s heated GOP primary in Lee’s district

Democrats are playing defense on Nevada’s three congressional seats in Southern Nevada, and while all three are considered vulnerable, one seat is particularly at risk.

Rep. Susie Lee, who represents the areas of Summerlin, Spring Valley and Enterprise in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, was labeled “lean Democrat” by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, while Reps. Dina Titus and Steven Horsford’s seats are considered “likely Democrat.” While none of the seats are considered a toss-up yet, that could change after the primary.

Seven Republicans have joined the race, including Elizabeth Helgelien, Drew Johnson, Steven London, Steven Schiffman, Dan Schwartz, Brian Nadell and Marty O’Donnell, according to the Federal Election Commission. They will face off in the June 11 primary, and one winner will move to challenge Lee in November. Lee is also seeing a Democratic primary challenger in RockAthena Brittain, who seeks to be Nevada’s first trans woman in Congress.

While none of the Republican candidates have matched the deep pockets of Lee, who raised over $850,000 in the first quarter of 2024, former state treasurer Dan Schwartz put in an $800,000 loan to his campaign, putting him at the top of the candidate list in terms of funding. Others have tried to distinguish themselves through some key endorsements, positioning themselves as the “common sense” candidate.

The Review-Journal reached out to each candidate, asking them about their priorities, and why Republican voters should pick them.

Elizabeth Helgelien

Helgelien, a former Nevada state senator who was the first to toss her hat in the ring, prioritizes securing the border, fixing the economy and protecting American rights.

The 41-year-old Las Vegas resident was the youngest woman elected to the Nevada state Senate in 2010 at the age of 27. In 2021, she was in the national spotlight when her daughter, Sierra Halseth, was charged with murdering Helgelien’s ex-husband, Daniel Halseth. Helgelien now runs a real estate business with her husband, Tiger Helgelien.

“I’m a wife, mother, business owner and proud American. My oldest daughter serves in the military in the United States Space Force,” she said in a questionnaire. “I made history becoming the youngest female ever elected to the State senate and I’m the only Republican in my race with a proven conservative record.”

Drew Johnson

Conservative policy analyst and columnist Johnson wants to focus on inflation and debt cutting excessive spending on discretionary expenditures like foreign aid and pork projects.

The 44-year-old Las Vegas resident who ran a close race for Clark County Commission against Justin Jones in 2022 will also vote to cut red tape that discourages domestic energy production and fight to end trade wars that increase the cost of imported goods.

“As one of America’s leading government watchdogs, I’ve spent my career identifying wasteful spending and working with members of Congress to save taxpayers more than $60 billion,” he said in a questionnaire. “That experience makes me better prepared than anyone in Southern Nevada to tackle our inflation crisis – and our spending addiction.”

Marty O’Donnell

“Halo” composer O’Donnell prioritizes securing the border, providing relief and support to the middle class and balancing the budget.

Since O’Donnell entered the race in March, his campaign has gained a lot of attention, including from Tesla CEO and X owner Elon Musk. O’Donnell received the endorsement of Gov. Joe Lombardo, Nevada’s most influential Republican official.

He also said he is not accepting any corporate PAC money, arguing Wall Street and special interest groups have lobbyists and representation.

“While I have never run for office, I’ve had two extremely successful careers, working at the highest level in both, and I’ve started multiple businesses,” he said. “Now that I am retired, I want to give back to this country that has given me so much. Career politicians are leading this country down an unsustainable path and, as a grandfather, I can’t sit by and allow that to happen.”

Dan Schwartz

The 73-year-old former state treasurer and Las Vegas resident will prioritize closing the southern border, imposing term limits in Congress and expanding school choice.

Schwartz previously served as finance chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, and he made unsuccessful bids for Congress in 2020 and 2018.

He said his lifetime of service and experience from the United States Army and his time as treasurer will help him hit the ground running on day one. “And as Nevada State Treasurer, I was an effective advocate on behalf of Nevada taxpayers, holding the Carson City establishment accountable as in the Faraday Future debacle and opposing the Commerce Tax,” he said in the questionnaire. “I will bring that experience and tenacity to Congress to fight for the people of Nevada each and every day as their representative.”

Steven Schiffman

The Las Vegas-based attorney’s priorities include advocating for legislation that guarantees financial and military support to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan and advocating for legislation to mitigate potential harm of artificial intelligence. He supports federal legislation requiring political candidates and groups to use disclaimers in advertisements that use AI technology.

Schiffman said he has both personal and professional integrity and is loyal to his core principles, ethics and beliefs.

“As a moderate, common-sense Republican, I advocate political consensus and compromise, who offers a respect for diversity of political opinion; who seeks out common-sense solutions from across the political spectrum; where honesty, respect, integrity and ethics are the political norms and not the exceptions to the rule,” he said.”

Brian Nadell

Nadell said he is a not a politician but a gamesman.

“I am here to beat Washington at their own game and we the people will do it together,” he said in a statement. “I love our country and I will fight for it.”

Steven London did not return a request for comment.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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