A comprehensive #nvleg primary preview

Riley Snyder
15 min readJun 3, 2016


Primary elections tend to attract less turnout and not as much attention as general elections, but Nevada’s upcoming June 14 primary will play a critical role in determining the makeup of the 2017 Nevada Legislature.

Michelle Rindels, Megan Messerly and I have pored over campaign finance reports and voter registration data in an attempt to figure out the playing field and get a sense of who will be in Carson City come 2017.


AD1 (Map)

Daniele Monroe-Moreno might as well start packing her bags for Carson City — she’s the only Democrat running in the heavily Democratic 1st Assembly District in North Las Vegas. Monroe-Moreno raised $40,353.60 so far this year in her bid to replace Marilyn Kirkpatrick, the veteran Democratic lawmaker who recently joined the Clark County Commission and has a feisty primary fight with Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Ross to keep the seat. Her Republican rivals include Howard Brean and Roger “Oz” Baum (great grandson of the “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” author), but both report no money.

AD2 (Map)

Republican Assembly Speaker John Hambrick is seeking re-election but must get out of a primary challenge from anti-tax real estate agent Clayton Kelly Hurst. New Majority PAC, which is backed by Assemblyman Ira Hansen and other anti-tax groups, is sending out mailers saying Hambrick violated a 2012 anti-tax pledge when he supported Gov. Brian Sandoval’s $1.4 billion tax package. Hambrick reporting raising $50,650 this year, compared to $16,100 for Hurst.

Four Democrats are running in this Republican-leaning district, with Ron Nelsen and Owen Carver both raising roughly $17,000 through the first reporting period. Garrett LeDuff reported raising $2,250 and Joe Valdes didn’t report any contributions.

AD3 (Map)

No Democrat or Republican is challenging Nelson Araujo for super Democratic Assembly District 3. Perhaps that’s why he had time to run and win a seat as DNC Committeeman.

AD4 (Map)

The race to replace controversial Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (running for Congress) has attracted contentious primaries on both sides. Fiore endorsed former Assemblyman Richard McArthur, a stridently anti-tax Republican who raised $14,200 so far this year. He’s being challenged by insurance agent Kenneth Rezendes, who raised $29,020 this year and counts Gov. Brian Sandoval’s endorsement in his favor. Another Republican candidate, Melissa Laughter, hasn’t reporting raising any money so far.

Democrats Bert Lucas, John Piro and Earle Orr will face off in the Democratic primary, with Piro ($24,863) leading the fundraising battle so far. But Lucas does count the endorsement of the state’s powerful Culinary Union.

AD5 (Map)

Republican lawyer Artemus Ham IV, a pick of the GOP establishment and member of the family behind the Ham Concert Hall at UNLV, has raised $82,335 this year in what promises to be a competitive race. His district, previously held by outgoing Assemblyman Erv Nelson, leans Democratic. He has a primary challenger in Tony Baca, an anti-tax Brent Jones-backed candidate who has raised $4,350, not counting in-kind donations. Union organizer and Democratic caucus pick Rory Martinez doesn’t have much of a primary challenge and reported raising $33,466 so far this year.

AD6 (Map)

It’s all Democrats in this West Las Vegas district held by termed-out Harvey Munford. Former CSN student body president and caucus pick William McCurdy II, 27, raised $74,527 this year — more than double the $35,351 of his closest challenger, Macon Jackson.

AD7 (Map)

No Democrats challenging Dina Neal in her overwhelmingly Democratic district.

AD8 (Map)

Rising star Democrat Jason Frierson’s shocking defeat at the hands of little-known John Moore was one of the most fluky outcomes of the 2014 election. Frierson is working hard to not repeat those results, out raising Moore 4-to-1 in an effort to oust the Republican-turned-Libertarian.

AD9 (Map)

David Gardner is feeling the heat in an Assembly district that leans Democratic. His campaign announced an endorsement from Gov. Brian Sandoval and he’s been active pushing his Clark County School District breakup bill and proposing similar NSHE reforms. He’s raised $46,355 this year — a comparatively middling sum that may reflects his tough re-election chances. He faces a well-funded primary challenge from RNC Committeewoman, who’s backed by Brent Jones and raised $23,174 this calendar year. Fellow challenger Minddie Lloyd could play spoiler, especially after raising $20,435 so far this year.

If he makes it past the “insurgent” Orrock, he faces a formidable foe — well-known public defender lobbyist Steve Yeager, who has caucus backing and outraised Gardner with $49,064 this year.

AD10 (Map)

Anti-tax Republican Shelly Shelton is almost guaranteed to lose a central Las Vegas district where Democrats out-register Republicans by 23 percentage points. Could that be why she only raised $750 this year? It’s practically a coronation for Democratic energy lobbyist Chris Brooks, who added $68,194 to his war chest this year. Brooks does have a primary challenger in German Castellanos, who only raised $657 so far this year.

AD11 (Map)

Democrat Olivia Diaz can start booking flights to Carson City immediately, as no other candidates filed to run in her district.

AD12 (Map)

No primary challenge for Democrat James Ohrenschall and no well-funded Republicans running against him in his comfortably Democratic district. Ohrenschall raised $16,453 this year.

AD13 (Map)

Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson wants to lead a slate of moderate Republicans to victory and keep the majority next year. But his first order of business is shaking off poorly funded Leonard Foster and Steve Sanson, a Republican aligned with Anderson’s nemesis, Brent Jones. Anderson raised $111,825 this year compared with Sanson’s $13,336 (although that’s still enough for Sanson to buy time on a prominent electronic billboard near the Spaghetti Bowl). No Democrats are vying for the seat in a Republican-leaning district, which means the primary winner will head to Carson City in 2016.

AD14 (Map)

Smooth sailing for the very-liberal Maggie Carlton — just underfunded Republicans in her overwhelmingly Democratic district.

AD15 (Map)

No well-funded challenges for Elliot Anderson in his very safe Democratic district.

AD16 (Map)

Perennial Libertarian candidate Ed Uehling is back to give Democrat Heidi Swank an unserious challenge in her very Democratic district.

AD17 (Map)

Tyrone Thompson is here to stay (his Republican challenger, Ronald Newsome, did report raising $12,000 but it’s a tall hill to climb to overcome the 2-to-1 registration advantage for Democrats in the district.)

AD18 (Map)

Richard Carrillo is getting a bit of primary pressure from Democrat Erica Mosca, a Teach for America alum who runs an education non-profit called Leaders in Training. She raised a not-too-shabby $18,400, but Carrillo kicked up his fundraising game and collected $73,603 in 2016.

Republican Christine Decorte, who raised $17,660 last year, will likely face the Democratic primary winner.

AD19 (Map)

Republican Chris Edwards is basking in the glow of getting political consultant Tony Dane indicted on extortion charges, and he may soon have a primary victory to celebrate. The maverick Edwards, who voted against taxes but is still in the establishment’s good graces, raised $30,916 this year. That compares to $10,148 for Contract With Nevada-aligned Connie Foust. If Edwards beats Foust in June, he heads back to Carson City — no Democrats are running in the Mesquite district.

AD20 (Map)

Democrat Ellen Spiegel faces a serious primary challenger in lawyer Darren Welsh, who’s raised a respectable $42,320 this year. The endangered Spiegel is getting help from an EMILY’s List endorsement as she bids to keep the seat. Republican Carol Linton has yet to report any contributions.


Up-and-comer Derek Armstrong’s challenges start with Blain Jones, son of anti-tax Real Water owner Brent Jones. Armstrong is one of most prominent Republican tax supporters and raised $95,375 this year compared with the younger Jones’ $16,970. If he passes the real and symbolic challenge from Jones, he jumps into a difficult general election battle in a comfortably Democratic district. OJ’s ex-lawyer Ozzie Fumo is raising plenty of cash — $46,196 this year after and impressive 2015 — although Fumo must first get past fellow Democrat and former Harry Reid staffer Vinny Spotleson, who raised $18,863 this year.

AD22 (Map)

Republican Lynn Stewart is taking leave of his Republican-leaning “Double Deuce” district, but will his chosen successor, attorney Keith Pickard, take the mantle? Establishment-endorsed Pickard raised $46,300 this year, picking up the pace from last year when he reported $5,500 and was far outraised by primary rival Richard Bunce. Bunce has been a fixture in local Republican groups for some time and falls firmly in the “grassroots” camp.

AD23 (Map)

Campaign finance reports may have been a wakeup call for longtime Republican Assemblywoman Melissa Woodbury. She raised $26,000 this year while her primary challenger Swadeep Nigam nearly matched her haul with $20,825. Gov. Brian Sandoval announced shortly after that he was endorsing Woodbury. Nigam is an analyst with the Las Vegas Valley Water District and a Sandoval-appointed member of the Nevada Equal Rights Commission. He has been active in local Republican party politics.

AD24 (Map)

Amber Joiner doesn’t face much of a re-election challenge — she’s the only Democrat in her highly Democratic district that includes the University of Nevada, Reno.

AD25 (Map)

Things are looking good for Republican Jill Tolles, a part-time UNR communications instructor who hopes to replace retiring Pat Hickey in his Republican-leaning Reno district. She posted a formidable $64.149 haul this year on top of $85,515 last year. Her closest primary competitor, Republican activist Jennifer Terhune, was far behind with $8,200 in 2016. No serious Democrats are in the race.

AD26 (Map)

In one of the toughest Assembly primaries, establishment-backed Republican Jason Guinasso has a relatively small lead over anti-tax Lisa Krasner. Randy Kirner is retiring from the district after beating Krasner by a mere 11 votes last cycle. Guinasso beat back a lawsuit challenging his residency but it won’t be easy facing Krasner. He argues Krasner is lying about his eligibility to run and her own status as an attorney, and says mailers featuring her and a uniformed Washoe County Sheriff Chuck Allen are illegal.

AD27 (Map)

Democrat Teresa Benitez Thompson looks strong after posting another impressive financial report — $65,200 this year. Former Washoe County Commissioner Bonnie Weber hasn’t reported any campaign cash … yet. We’ll have to see if Weber starts stocking up for a serious bid in November in the Democratic-leaning district.

AD28 (Map)

Incumbent Democrat Edgar Flores is a shoo-in for an Assembly district that is 58 percent Democratic. He raised $20,608 this year, while Republican Wesley Cornwell reported no fundraising.

AD29 (Map)

Incumbent Republican Stephen Silberkraus has a decent lead over anti-tax, Brent Jones-aligned challenger Amy Groves. Silberkraus raised $57,600 this year, on par with what he collected last year, while Groves pulled in $13,800. But if he clears that primary, he’ll have to overcome a narrow Democratic advantage in his district and an opponent, Lesley Cohen, who’s proving herself crafty: she sent GOP primary voters a mailer touting Groves’ Donald Trump-like views — a move that could drive the Trump-sympathizing base to the easier-to-beat Groves. Cohen raised $26.033 this year.

AD30 (Map)

Incumbent Democrat Mike Sprinkle will again face off against Republican Lauren Scott, who lost to Sprinkle in 2014.

Sprinkle raised $38,050 through the first 2016 reporting period, which far outstrips the $1,573 raised by Scott over the same time period. Scott, who would be the first transgender person elected to the Legislature, was able to ramp up her fundraising in 2014 largely through self-financing so it remains to be seen if she’ll be able to keep competitive in the fundraising race.

AD31 (Map)

It’s a rematch of 2014, with former Assemblyman and labor leader Skip Daly taking on incumbent Assemblywoman Jill Dickman, who defeated him in 2014.

Daly has slightly outraised Dickman so far in 2016 ($42,850 to $38,580), but she outraised him in 2015 and the lack of a primary challenge on either side means it’s too early to tell if Democrats will have a shot at taking back this Sparks-centered district.

AD32 (Map)

Republican Ira Hansen, who fronted the unsuccessful charge to defeat Sandoval’s proposed tax increases in 2015, doesn’t have to worry about making it back to the Legislature after no one filed to challenge for this rural Northern Nevada district.

AD33 (Map)

No “kink in the slinky” for incumbent Republican John Ellison’s re-election chances — no one else filed to run in this Elko-based district.

AD34 (Map)

Incumbent Republican Victoria Seaman is vacating the district to run for state Senate, meaning the next representative of this Democratic-leaning district will likely come out of a competitive three-way Democratic primary between Zach Conine, Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod and Manny Garcia.

Bilbray-Axelrod — the daughter of former Nevada Congressman Jim Bilbray — is backed by the Assembly Democratic caucus and raised $52,080 in the last reporting period, but entrepreneur Conine is very close in overall fundraising and Garcia is banking on significant union support.

Three Republicans have also filed to run in the district, but their fundraising numbers have lagged. Marty Hagans, Matt Williams and David LaBay have combined raised only $2,200 since the start of 2015.

AD35 (Map)

It’s cupcakes vs. Real Water! Bakery owner Tiffany Jones, a political newcomer recently endorsed by Sandoval, is taking on incumbent Republican Assemblyman Brent Jones, who owns Real Water. Moderate Republicans in the state would love to knock off Jones, who’s helping finance a bevy of “insurgent” challengers to incumbent Republicans who supported the tax increase.

Brent Jones has a slight fundraising edge over Tiffany Jones ($28,133 to $26,533), but the eventual winner will have to take on Democratic attorney Justin Watkins, who has outraised both of them in 2016 by hauling in $91,886.

AD36 (Map)

After the 2015 session ended, Republican James Oscarson was widely considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents after voting for a bevy of new taxes despite representing the extremely conservative area of Pahrump — even being “excommunicated” by the Nye County Republican Party.

But subsequent financial reports show that the two-term Assemblyman has a massive fundraising advantage over his Republican opponents, raising more than $200,000 since 2015 and blanketing the rural community with signs and billboards. Tina Trenner, who was endorsed by the county party, in comparison has only raised around $8,000 over that same timeframe.

Whoever wins will take on Libertarian candidate brothel owner Dennis Hof, who has yet to file any financial reports with the state.

AD37 (Map)

This district is one of the best chances to knock off a sitting Republican incumbent. Former boxing judge and incumbent Glenn Trowbridge raised $40,450 through 2016 but semi-retired businessman Jim Marchant isn’t far behind, raising $31,210 over the same time frame. Trowbridge is trying to beat back the challenge with new mailers highlighting Marchant’s business relationship with indicted consultant Tony Dane.

The primary winner will have a very good chance of defeating Democratic attorney Sean Lyttle, who’s only raised a little more than $2,000 since announcing his candidacy.

AD38 (Map)

No primary challenges for incumbent Dr. Robin Titus, but she faces an interesting general election challenge from Democrat George Dini — current mayor of rural Yerington and son of legendary legislator Joe Dini.

AD39 (Map)

Republican Jim Wheeler will waltz to re-election in this Northern Nevada district, with only an underfunded Independent candidate challenging for the seat.

AD40 (Map)

It’s a sure bet that a Republican will represent this Carson City-centered district come 2016, but it’s less sure that it will be incumbent P.K. O’Neill, who garnered three primary challengers after the longtime law enforcement officer voted for a slate of controversial new taxes.

Former Carson City treasurer Al Kramer ($21,194) led fellow challengers Sam England ($15,376) and Chris Forbush ($12,243) in fundraising, but O’Neill ($57,572) has a significant leg up on all three thanks to fundraising help from Sandoval and continually large contribution reports.

The primary winner will take on Democrat Michael Greedy and Independent American Party candidate John Wagner, both of whom have a miniscule chance of making it into office.

AD41 (Map)

Incumbent Assemblywoman Vicki Dooling decided one term in Carson City was enough, deciding not to run again and endorsing Las Vegas Tea Party leader Mary Rooney. But she’ll face a challenge from former Clark County Republican Party operative Nick Phillips, who has outraised Rooney so far in 2016 with a financial boost from moderate Assembly Republicans.

Democrats also face an intriguing primary, with former Assemblyman Paul Aizely (knocked off by Dooling in 2014) running against the party-backed real estate agent Sandra Jauregui, who outraised him nearly 2–1 in 2016.

AD42 (Map)

Democratic Assembly leader Irene Bustamante Adams, who took the reins from termed-out former leader Marilyn Kirkpatrick, is almost assured of re-election. She’s one of the top fundraisers in the Assembly, raising more than $135,000 through the first reporting period. Her only opponent, Republican Howard Scheff, raised $100 over the same time period.

State Senate

SD1 (Map)

Democratic incumbent Pat Spearman doesn’t face a primary in a North Las Vegas district that leans Democratic by a 2-to-1 margin, but she reported raising $75,294 so far this year. Her Republican opponent, Arsen Ter-Petrosyan, has loaned himself $41,248.

SD3 (Map)

Democratic incumbent Tick Segerblom has no primary opponents in his heavily Democratic (Las Vegas) district, but raised $79,830 this year. Republican Dennis Palmerston reported raising $100 toward his long-shot bid for the seat, and Libertarian Jonathan Friedrich reported $9,718 in contributions so far.

SD4 (Map)

Democratic incumbent Kelvin Atkinson is seeking to bury his primary opponent in one of the most deeply Democratic Nevada Senate districts. Atkinson hauled in a whopping $175,328 this year to get him over the hurdle. His opponent is Stephen Harvey Munford, a political newcomer who shares a weighty name with his father, longtime Assemblyman Harvey Munford, and brought in $8,090 this year. No Republicans are trying their hand in the district.

SD5 (Map)

Democratic incumbent Joyce Woodhouse, a retired teacher, is girding for a tough battle in her Henderson swing district. She brought in $175,928 so far this year, after a sizeable haul of $134,677 in 2015. She has a primary opponent in Nicholas Lash, a Democrat who reported raising $60 this year and whose quixotic campaign website features a poem about Bernie Sanders in place of a personal biography. Her most serious foe will be charter school principal Carrie Buck, a Republican champion of school choice. She’s raised $40,475 this year on top of $79,200 in 2015, and doesn’t have a primary opponent.

SD6 (Map)

Two well-funded Republicans are locked in an ugly primary for the Summerlin-area Senate district being vacated by Mark Lipparelli. Former Assemblyman Erv Nelson, an establishment pick and Sandoval tax package supporter, has raised $95,846 this year on top of the $113,973 he raised in 2015. Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman, who voted against the tax package, raised $65,401 this year and $88,859 in 2015. Seaman has painted Nelson as a carpetbagger who broke campaign promises about taxes, while Nelson supporters are seeking to undermine Seaman’s anti-tax rhetoric and calling her business acumen, including a decades-old bankruptcy, into question. The benefactor of the squabbling could be Democratic candidate Nicole Cannizzaro, who doesn’t have a primary and raised $103,402 just this year in hopes of capitalizing on the district’s slight Democratic registration advantage.

SD7 (Map)

Longtime Nevada lawmaker David Parks reported raising a significant haul of $85,685 through the year in this heavily Democratic district. He faces a primary “challenge” from perennial candidate Anthony “Toni” Wernicke, who hasn’t raised any campaign funds so far.

Parks will likely take on Libertarian Kimberly Schjang in the general election, who has raised a much more modest $25. Barring some sort of disaster for the Democrats, Parks should be heading back to Carson City in 2017.

SD11 (Map)

Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford outraised all legislative candidates this year, likely from donors who foresee the Senate’s narrow 11–10 Republican majority flipping in Democrats’ favor and propelling Ford to the preeminent leadership post. He reported $186,761 this year, after pulling in an impressive $174,863 in 2015. Ford is in a safe Democratic district and faces negligible challenges in Republican Jon Frazier, who raised $1,185 so far this year, and Libertarian Lesley Chan, who hasn’t reported any campaign funds.

SD13 (Map)

The unfortunate passing of legislative leader Sen. Debbie Smith certainly leaves big shoes to fill in this Northern Nevada district. The early favorite is former Sparks city councilwoman Julia Ratti, a Democrat supported by Smith’s family and who raised a respectable $53,445 so far this year despite no primary challengers.

Two Republicans — Samantha Brockeslby and Kent Bailey — have raised accrued similar war chests of around $12,000 and will compete in the June 14 primary. Libertarian Brandon Jacobs, who has raised $162, will also join the November ballot in this district with a double-digit Democratic registration advantage.

SD15 (Map)

Republican Heidi Gansert, an ex-assemblywoman and former Sandoval chief of staff, raised $111,700 this year to win the Washoe County swing district left open after Republican Greg Brower left for a job in Washington D.C. She must first navigate past anti-tax businessman Eugene Hoover, who reported raising $17,774 this year, to get to Democratic leaders’ preferred candidate, Devon Reese. Reese, an attorney, has no primary challenge and can devote the $130,241 he raised this year to fighting in the general election. The district has a 3 percentage point Republican registration advantage, which would favor a more moderate GOP candidate. Democrats have sought to hurt Gansert in the primary by backing her into a corner about taxes, criticizing her refusal to say whether she would have voted for a tax package championed by Sandoval, her former boss.

SD18 (Map)

Republican incumbent Scott Hammond ramped up his fundraising game in recent months, pulling in $88,151 this year to win re-election in a Republican-leaning Las Vegas swing district. Democrat Alexander Marks raised $47,985 this year. Neither will have to waste money on a primary.

SD19 (Map)

There’s no primary for longtime Republican legislative leader and rancher Pete Goicoechea, who raised $24,750 through 2016. He’ll face a general election challenge from perennial candidate and Janine Hansen, who has yet to file a 2016 contributions and expenses report.

Written by Michelle Rindels and Riley Snyder
Data compiled by Megan Messerly

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this post are the opinions of the authors and should not be construed as the opinions of their employers.