By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: While Democrats registered more voters in March than Republicans, a GOP official noted this week that the party has made gains in four state Senate districts that are key to who will control the house in the 2013 legislative session.
A spokesman for Senate Democrats questioned the importance of the GOP analysis, however, noting that Democrats registered more voters than Republicans in two of the seats from February to March.
Democrats now hold an 11-10 edge in the 21 member Senate, and both parties agree that the five races that are in play among the 12 Senate seats on the November general election ballot are crucial to which party will hold the majority.
Secretary of State Ross Miller reported on Tuesday that Democrats registered 1,590 more voters statewide than Republicans in March.
Through March, Democrats have 452,219 active registered voters, while Republicans have 403,565 and nonpartisans total 175,992. The remainder of the 1,095,017 active voters belong to minor parties.
But Republicans made gains in four of five state Senate races considered competitive between the two major parties based on the number of active voters as tallied by the Clark County Election Department. All are in Clark County and all are open races with no incumbents.
The numbers of active voters as reported by Clark County are through April 5, and are different than those reported by the Secretary of State’s office through March 31.
The GOP improvement is based on Clark County voter registration numbers earlier this month, prior to an update that moved some voters to inactive status.
Inactive voter status includes voters who have moved. Inactive voters are eligible to vote so long as they have met all other legal requirements to vote.
The GOP analysis shows:
– In Senate District 5, where former Henderson city councilman Steve Kirk and Annette Teijeiro, both Republicans, face Democrat and former state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, Democrats now lead 40.5 percent to 37.4 percent, with the GOP closing the gap by 0.9 percent. Democrats now have a 1,677 vote lead.
– In Senate District 6, where GOP attorney Mark Hutchison is facing Benny Yerushalmi and Thomas Welsh, both Democrats, Democrats now lead 41.4 percent to 38.2 percent, with the GOP closing the gap by 1.2 percent. Democrats now have a 1,785 vote lead.
– In Senate District 9, where Republicans Mari Nakashima St. Martin and Brent Jones face Democrats Justin Jones and Frederick Conquest, Democrats now lead 39.6 percent to 35.3 percent, with Republicans closing the gap by 0.5 percent. Democrats have an 1,831 vote lead.
– In Senate District 18, where Republicans Scott Hammond, Richard McArthur and Conrad Vergara face Democrats Kelli Ross and Donna Schlemmer, Republicans now lead 40.7 percent to 37.7 percent, with Republicans adding to their advantage by 0.6 percent. Republicans now have a lead of 1,619 voters.
– In the Reno race in Senate District 15 between Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, and former state Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, Democrats added slightly more voters in March, 93, than Republicans, 32. Republicans have a voter lead of 1,430 votes, or 40.1 percent to 38 percent. These are based on the Secretary of State’s numbers through March 31.
Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, campaign chairman for the Senate Republican Caucus said: “Our primary advantage is the excellent candidates that will represent the GOP in every crucial state Senate race this election cycle – candidates that are 100 percent dedicated to improving Nevada’s education system and economy.
“Our candidates will work harder, have better campaign organizations, and will have all the resources they need to win in November,” he said. “Our confidence level is higher than ever that Senate Republicans will go into the next legislative session with a 12-9 majority.”
Michael Luce, executive director for the Nevada Senate Democrats, said the updated active voter rolls in Clark County leave Senate Democrats, “with a sizable advantage that will grow larger as we move closer to the election.”
“The numbers of inactive voters in these districts makes this issue irrelevant, as they were all less than 1 percent,” he said. “While Republicans appear to be celebrating what is essentially a routine recoding of some voters who did not update their addresses, our strategy is to continue ramping up our voter registration efforts as evidenced by Democrats outpacing Republicans last month in new registered voters.”
Luce also noted that over 30,000 voters classified as inactive voted in the 2010 election, according to the Secretary of State’s office.