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VICTOR JOECKS: Three Nevada Republicans stand out in primaries

Republicans have had more hype than success in Southern Nevada. Their chances of changing that this year starts with picking strong candidates.

On Wednesday, Morning Consult released a presidential poll of swing states. In Nevada, former President Donald Trump led President Joe Biden by 14 points — yes, 14 points — in a five-way race. That poll included Robert Kennedy Jr., Cornel West and Jill Stein. In a head-to-head contest, Trump led Biden by eight points.

While neither candidate is likely to win Nevada by that much, it’s a positive sign for down-ballot Republicans. Voters know Democrats have done a terrible job running the country. In 2022, Nevada Republicans hoped to flip a Senate seat and multiple House seats. It didn’t happen. Polls such as this one suggest this year could be different. But GOP primary voters must select wisely. Congressional Democrats will almost certainly outspend their opponents.

Start with the U.S. Senate race. Sam Brown is the best candidate. He has a compelling personal story of heroism. He literally has the scars to prove it. While serving in Afghanistan, a bomb blew up his vehicle, and he nearly burned to death. He doesn’t have a voting record, but his stance on issues looks solid. He has raised $5.4 million and has $2.3 million cash on hand, according to the recent FEC filings.

Air Force veteran Tony Grady would be a great candidate in a different race. He had less than $35,000 in the bank on his recent filing. The only candidate with enough cash to do anything is Jeff Gunter, who was Trump’s ambassador to Iceland. He has loaned his campaign $2.7 million. Spending won’t win him the nomination. It would just force Brown to spend money now, when it would be better spent taking on incumbent Sen. Jacky Rosen.

The only thing that could derail Brown is if Trump endorsed someone else. But that’s unlikely. Trump has put out a social media graphic touting Brown.

In the 4th Congressional District, Republicans have a dream candidate running, former North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee. The district includes the city that Lee and his team saved from fiscal collapse. Although he’s more conservative than many Nevada Republicans, Lee was also a longtime Democrat. That should be seen as a positive in a district that has nearly 40,000 more Democrats than Republicans. Republicans have held that seat only once since it was created in 2011. Lee gives them a real chance to make it twice.

Nevada Republicans’ best flip possibility is in the 3rd Congressional District. Democrats’ voter registration lead is under 5 percentage points. Republicans would be wise to go with Drew Johnson. He’s extremely smart and articulate. He’s the former president of a free-market think tank. He famously exposed that climate alarmist Al Gore’s home used 20 times more power than the national average. Johnson almost beat Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones two year ago, so he’s electable. Self-funding may allow Dan Schwartz or Marty O’Donnell to spend more, but neither has the record Johnson does.

If Republicans want to win in November, they need to choose wisely in June.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on X.

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