CARSON CITY – Nevada’s two competitive House races are drawing big bucks from outside groups .
In the 4th Congressional District race between Republican Danny Tarkanian and Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, outside groups led by the National Republican Congressional Committee have spent about $2 million to oppose Horsford.
Federal Election Commission reports show about $415,000 has come from outside to try to tarnish Tarkanian .
Outside groups have spent about $3.3 million to influence the race, most of which has been aimed at defeating Horsford. Labor groups funneled about $500,000 to support the Democrat.
The state’s newest congressional district covers a swath of conservative rural Nevada. But its urban core in Southern Nevada has a strong minority and Democratic base. Democrats hold a more than 34,000 registration advantage, an edge Democrats once thought would catapult Horsford to Congress.
“I think they sort of saw the registration numbers and said this was a safe district,” said David Damore, a political scientist at UNLV .
But polls show the race close, if not tilting toward Tarkanian.
“The registration lulled people into a sense of somewhat complacency on the Democratic side,” Dan Hart, a Democratic consultant not involved in the Horsford campaign, said Wednesday.
Campaign finance reports filed this week show Tarkanian, the son of former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, raised $414,000 in the past quarter.
Horsford, who raised $391,999, is the state’s first black Senate majority leader and hopes to become the first black elected to Congress from Nevada.
The outside money game is a different story in Nevada’s 3rd District .
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent $1.5 million opposing the re-election of Republican Rep. Joe Heck, who is being challenged by John Oceguera, the Democratic state Assembly speaker.
The National Republican Congressional Committee in turn has doled out $1.3 million to beat Oceguera.
Combined, that race has drawn $3.8 million in outside money, FEC records show.
Heck outpaced Oceguera slightly in quarterly campaign contributions, reporting $358,000 to Oceguera’s $353,000.