Analysis: Nevada's Primary Results

Jun 13, 2018

More than 320,000 Nevadans participated in Tuesday's primaries to decide which candidates will move on to the November general election ballot. KUNR's Bree Zender spoke with our Senior Reporter Paul Boger to break down some of those results.

Let's talk about the statewide races. Were there any surprises?

No, I can't say that there were. As expected, Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt will face Democratic Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak for governor.

In the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Dean Heller is facing a challenge from Congresswoman Jacky Rosen.

Neither of those races were surprises.

Perhaps Sisolak's victory over his opponent Chris Giunchigliani may be a little shocking, but honestly, he had more money, more name recognition and when it came down to it, talking to voters Tuesday, they thought he had a better chance at beating Laxalt in the November general.

As for the other statewide races, to put it simply and in the interest of time, if you've heard of them, they probably won.

So, no big surprises downticket either?

Well, I think the biggest surprise in this entire primary election comes in the form of an assembly race down in Nye County.

Infamous Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof was able to knock off three-term incumbent James Oscarson. This was a particularly bitter contest on both sides featuring many attacks on billboards for months. The reason I find this so surprising is that this isn't the first time these two have been on the ballot together. In 2016, Hof ran against Oscarson but as a Libertarian. In that election, Oscarson won with more than 60 percent of the vote. Now, Hof will face Democrat Lesia Romanov in a district that swings pretty hard for Republicans.

What about some of the other legislative races...Congress perhaps?

Yeah, in CD2, Republican incumbent Mark Amodei handily beat his opponent, perennial candidate Sharron Angle, by roughly 32,000 votes. On the flip side, Democrats had a much closer race, but that's mostly because no one knew who these people were. Clint Koble, a former USDA administrator edged out Patrick Fogarty by less than 3 points.

In Southern Nevada, we'll have A repeat of the 2014 election in Congressional District 4, which is essentially the central part of the state. Former Democratic Congressman Steven Horsford will have to campaign against his ouster and former Republican Congressman Cresent Hardy. That should be a fun race to follow.

In Congressional District 3, which is the southernmost point of the state, Las Vegas Businessman Danny Tarkanian won the Republican primary down there for the second time in a row. If you recall, Tarkanian was flirting with the idea that he would run against Heller for the US Senate. He was talked out of that by none other than President Trump himself who asked Tarkanian via Twitter to run for CD3 instead. We'll see if that tacit endorsement helps him in the long run.

As for Congressional District 1, Democrat Dina Titus won.

Let's turn our attention a little closer to home and talk about local races.

Absolutely, so we should say the City of Sparks is getting a new Mayor. Popular incumbent Gino Martini is retiring due to health concerns, and now it appears that Sparks City Councilman Ron Smith will take his place. Smith won because he was able to get more than 50 percent of the vote, and in Sparks that's enough to get you the seat, even if it's a primary election.

In Reno, the rules require a runoff. If they didn't, Hillary Schieve would be sitting pretty right now. She was able to garner 62 percent of the vote last night. Her next closest challenger was Eddie Lorton who got 18 percent. They will face each other in November.

On the county level, incumbent Washoe County Commissioners Democrat Kitty Jung and Republican Bob Lucey won their respective races, and political newcomer Lindsy Judd beat Greg Smith in District 5, which is most of Northern Reno and all of rural Washoe County.

For Washoe Sheriff, there's a runoff there between Darin Balaam, who got 45 percent of the vote, and Heidi Howe, who got about 25 percent. 

Quickly, as we're running out of time, we saw a fairly good turnout. What does that tell us about the general election?

It tells us a couple of things.

First, there is a heightened awareness of the political landscape that we haven't seen in years. The difference between votes cast in the Republican governor's race and the Democrat's races was only about 3,000. If this trend continues, this is going to be a long and brutal campaign season.

Second, this was a primary in a midterm election, and turnout was fairly high among Democrats. These types of elections typically favor Republicans because they always turn out to vote. If the trend continues, that might bode well for Democrats on November 6th.