Editorial: Setting up for November

The volatile, high-interest presidential campaign didn’t translate into a rush at the polls in Tuesday’s Nevada primary election.

Only 18.5 percent of the Nevada’s 1.3 million registered voters — about 12 percent of eligible voters — bothered to vote in the primary. Clark County’s participation rate was even worse, with just 16 percent of registered voters turning out.

Most races went according to form, with the most notable victim being state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, a Las Vegas Republican who hoped to move up to Congress. Mr. Roberson lost to Danny Tarkanian in his bid to represent the GOP in the race for Congressional District 3. Mr. Tarkanian will face Democrat Jackie Rosen, making her first run for public office, in November.

Mr. Roberson had helped guide Gov. Brian Sandoval’s $1.4 billion tax package through the 2015 Legislature, which angered many rank-and-file conservatives. As a result several GOP lawmakers who sided with Mr. Roberson and voted for the higher taxes faced primary challengers running on the issue. The result for anti-tax activists was somewhat of a disappointment, though, as they won just three of 12 targeted GOP races.

As expected, former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto breezed through her Democratic U.S. Senate primary, while Republican Rep. Joe Heck did the same in the GOP race. The two will now square off in November to replace outgoing Sen. Harry Reid.

The race has national implications for control of the upper chamber. Ms. Cortez Masto, is Sen. Reid’s hand-picked candidate and a reliable bet to vote in lockstep with Beltway progressives. Meanwhile, Rep. Heck is a medical doctor who serves in the U.S. army reserve and offers Nevadans a level-headed, principled pragmatism.

A couple of down-ticket races featured interesting results.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen, who made the news last month when he ordered a public defender handcuffed in his courtroom, was soundly defeated by former prosecutor Amy “JoAnne” Chelini.

And Patrick Carter proved once again you never know what will happen in the races for university regent. Mr. Carter, who didn’t spend a dime and ran a virtually invisible campaign, pulled more votes than incumbent Michael Wixom. The two men will both advance to the general, but the race was reminiscent of 2008 when incumbent Regent Bret Whipple lost his seat to a little-known newcomer who eschewed fundraising and ran a limited campaign.

For those who sat on the sidelines Tuesday because they aren’t signed up to vote, the deadlines to register for the Nov. 8 general election are Oct. 8 (online) and Oct. 18 (in person). There’s plenty of time. No excuses.

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