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Nevadans' votes may change legislative makeup
by Brendan Riley - Associated Press
Aug 13, 2008 | 754 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CARSON CITY — Primary election results have given Democrats hope that they'll gain three seats in the Nevada Assembly, which they already control by a solid 27-15 margin, while Republicans hope to hang onto their bare 11-10 edge in the Senate in November general election balloting.

If Assembly Democrats are right, they'll end up with more than the 28 seats needed for a supermajority — the number needed to override a veto by Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons. If Senate Republicans maintain their slim majority, they'll keep upper-house Democrats in the minority status they've been relegated to since 1993.

"We have a very strong chance to go to 30 seats," said Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas. "Obviously we're very pleased with the primary results. The Assembly Republicans had a very bad night, losing three incumbents and some of their recruited candidates."

Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, said "it's going to be a challenge to hold onto what we have" in the Assembly, but added she's confident the Democrats' margin won't increase even though three GOP incumbents lost primary battles.

Even with the loss of veterans such as Assemblyman John Marvel, R-Battle Mountain, there's a strong slate of GOP candidates for Assembly seats, Gansert added. Marvel barely lost to former Assemblyman Don Gustavson in Assembly District 32.

In other primary contests, GOP Assemblywoman Francis Allen of Las Vegas, who won a dismissal of a charge stemming from a fight that left her husband with a stab wound, lost to Richard McArthur in Assembly District 4; and Assemblyman Bob Beers, R-Henderson, lost to Jon Ozark in a GOP primary battle for his Assembly District 21 seat.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, who narrowly survived a primary challenge from anti-tax conservative Sharron Angle, said the GOP strategy now will focus on the re-election bids of Sens. Joe Heck and Bob Beers, both southern Nevada Republicans.

"They're both running very hard and I think they are favored to win," Raggio said. "But it's a very competitive year."

In his primary race, Raggio said he knew Angle would be a tough opponent, especially given low voter turnout.

"Now we move forward," added Raggio, 81, who was first elected to the Senate in 1972. He faces Democrat Jade Zahreddine and Independent American Gary Feero in the general election.

In Senate District 5, Heck, R-Henderson, an emergency room doctor, wants a second four-year term and faces a challenge from Democrat Shirley Breeden, a longtime school district administrator. Democrats have a slight registration advantage in registration in the district, 42 percent to 41 percent. Two splinter-party candidates also are running.

In Senate District 6, Beers, R-Las Vegas, is seeking a second four-year term. A certified accountant and business consultant, Beers faces Democrat Allison Copening, who works in public relations. The district's registered voters are 41 percent Democrat, 39 percent Republican.

Senate Minority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, easily survived his primary challenge and will face Republican Sharon Gobel in the general election. Other Democratic incumbents running in the general election include Sens. John Lee, Valerie Wiener and Mike Schneider, all southern Nevadans.

In Senate District 7A, Democratic Assemblyman David Parks easily won his primary and will run against Lindsay Madsen, who won the GOP primary. They're seeking the seat that incumbent Democrat Dina Titus is giving up to run for Congress.

Other senators seeking re-election include Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, running unopposed; and Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, facing Independent American Janine Hansen in November.

Ten of 21 state Senate seats are up for grabs this year. All 42 Assembly seats are up.
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