Interesting Republican candidates are flocking to the race in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District like moths to a flame. It’s going to end up as well for them as it does for the moths.
At least five Republicans can make a credible case to enter the race. Jim Marchant is a former Republican assemblyman and the best known of the group. Lisa Song Sutton is an Asian-American entrepreneur and Miss Nevada United States 2014. Sam Peters is a veteran and business owner. Charles Navarro is a Hispanic veteran with a beautiful family. Randi Reed is a successful businesswoman from Northern Nevada.
It’s understandable why these candidates might think they could be successful in politics. It’s much less understandable that they would choose this race.
Democrat Steven Horsford currently represents CD4. He’s not a great candidate. As a state legislator, Horsford had a habit of abusing his power for personal and political gain. He won the seat in 2012 but lost it during the red wave of 2014. He then stayed in Washington, D.C., to work as a lobbyist. He ran for the seat again in 2018 only after incumbent Ruben Kihuen resigned over allegations of sexual harassment
But Horsford doesn’t have to be a great candidate because he’s in a great district for Democrats. Almost 41 percent of CD4 voters are Democrats. Just 32 percent of voters are Republicans. That’s a significant advantage. A Republican candidate would need to win independent and third-party voters by a 2-to-1 margin to have a chance.
A Republican could win in CD4 if fewer Democrats showed up relative to Republican turnout. That’s not going to happen in a presidential year, especially with President Donald Trump on the ballot. Imagine how fired up casual Republican voters would be if Hillary Clinton were running for re-election. That’s how Democrats are going to feel about voting against Trump, and there are more of them in CD4.
You can overcome these problems with money, celebrity or opponent scandals. These options aren’t available. Horsford has $750,000 in the bank and no competitive primary. Marchant and Sutton each have close to $100,000 in cash on hand. They’ll likely spend every bit trying to eke out a primary victory. None of the candidates is well-known. Horsford has past scandals, but they haven’t prevented him from winning the seat twice.
Instead of running for Congress, each of the newcomers should consider another seat. With his experience, it makes the most sense for Marchant to run for a seat Republicans are all but certain to lose.
The other candidates should wait until they’re better positioned. If Sutton won an Assembly seat and proved herself capable, donors would beg her to run for Congress down the line. Same with Navarro. Peters would boost his chances after time in Carson City, too. Reed would be a great candidate against Assemblyman Skip Daly, D-Sparks.
This approach requires patience, but it does have one advantage: Unlike running in this race, it could one day lead you to Congress.
Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.