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GOP makes gains in Nevada legislature, no supermajorities for Democrats


By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: There will be no supermajorities for Democrats in either the state Senate or Assembly in the 2011 session, meaning the parties will have to work together and with Republican Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval on issues from taxes to redistricting.

Republicans in the 42-member state Assembly, who had been outnumbered 28-14, retained their seats and picked up two held by Democrats, enough to take away a veto-proof majority held by Democrats in the 2009 session.

Senate Democrats, looking to pick up two seats to extend their majority to a veto-proof 14, instead saw an incumbent lose and Republicans hold on to their two seats in play. The result is Democrats will have a razor-thin 11-10 majority next year.

Assembly Republicans knocked off incumbent freshman Democrat Ellen Spiegel in District 21, and picked up the open District 40 seat in Carson City formerly held by Democrat Bonnie Parnell, to increase their ranks to 16.

Republican Mark Sherwood edged Spiegel by several hundred votes. Republican Pete Livermore handily beat Democrat Robin Williamson in a Carson City race that saw the Nevada State Democratic Party spend thousands on mailers attacking Livermore.

Republicans held on to their seats, with all incumbents winning and Republican candidates picking up open seats that had been held by GOP candidates, including District 13 in Clark County, formerly held by Chad Christensen.

All other Democrat incumbents won, and all open seats that had been held by Democrats were retained except for Assembly District 40.

In the state Senate, freshman Democrat Joyce Woodhouse in Clark District 5 lost to Republican challenger Michael Roberson giving Republicans an additional seat. Republican incumbent Barbara Cegavske in Clark District 8 fended off a challenge from Democrat Tammy Peterson. And in the third hotly contested race, GOP newcomer Elizabeth Halseth won the open Clark 9 seat held by Republican Dennis Nolan. Halseth had defeated Nolan in the primary and defeated Democrat Benny Yerushalmi in the general.

The result reduces the Democratic majority to only one.

All the favored candidates in the other state Senate races won as expected, including GOP Assemblyman Don Gustavson in Washoe 2 and Democratic Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie in Washoe 1.

Not only have the party dynamics changed, there will also be dozens of new members of the Legislature come February.

There will be 20 new members of the Assembly, although one, Maggie Carlton, has been serving in the Senate and so has legislative experience.

There will be 10 new members of the Senate, although seven are current members of the Assembly with legislative experience.

Livermore said he is ready to get to work right away, and will participate in the Assembly Republican Caucus meeting set for Thursday.

“I am humbled and grateful so many have shown so much trust in me,” he said. “I’m eager to get started and get people back to work.”

Other lawmakers could not immediately be reached for comment on the legislative outcomes.

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