CARSON CITY – The precincts have been walked, the issues debated and the media campaigns run. Now many Nevada voters will get to weigh in on five critical races to determine whether Republicans or Democrats will control the state Senate after the polls close tomorrow.
The 21-member Senate currently has an 11-10 Democratic edge.
Gov. Brian Sandoval and many of his Republican colleagues are working to change this by winning at least four of five of the races in play between the two parties on Election Day tomorrow.
Sandoval, who is expected to push for further education reforms and other changes in the 2013 session, would love to have the leverage a Republican Senate would provide to help win passage of his agenda.
State Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas. Image provided by Nevada News Bureau.
Democrats meanwhile, are working hard to hold on to or even increase their majority in the Senate, where they have been in control since 2008. The 42-member Assembly is expected to remain under Democratic control following the election.
Races to watch
Four of the five Senate seats in play are in Southern Nevada and the fifth is in Reno:
Senate 5, where Republican and former Henderson city councilman Steve Kirk is facing Democrat and former state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse;
Senate 6, where GOP attorney Mark Hutchison faces Democrat businessman Benny Yerushalmi;
Senate 9, where Republican Mari Nakashima St. Martin faces Democrat Justin Jones;
Senate 15 in Reno where Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, is running against former state Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno; and,
Senate 18, where Republican Assemblyman Scott Hammond faces Democrat Kelli Ross.
Republicans have a voter registration edge in Senate 15 and 18, while Democrats lead in the other three. There are a large number of nonpartisan voters in all five districts as well, however. How they vote could determine the outcome of the races.
Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said the top drawer candidates recruited by the Republican Senate caucus are all in a position to win on Tuesday.
State Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas. Image provided by Nevada News Bureau.
“We’re right where we want to be, we’re right where we expected to be,” he said today. “We’re positioned to win all of these races. Whether we do or not the voters will tell us tomorrow.
“All of our races are very close,” Roberson said. “Some of them could certainly go either way. But we feel like we’ve done everything we can to put us in a position to be successful.”
The Republican candidates have been successful in attracting both Democrat and nonpartisan voters, he said.
“So I think you’re going to see a lot of ticket splitting; I think you’re going to see a lot of people who are registered Democrat or registered nonpartisan that come over and vote for our candidates,” Roberson said.
Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, was equally optimistic about the outcome for his Democratic candidates.
“Our take has always been that we were going to maintain and expand our majority,” he said today. “We went out and recruited some great folks and we’ve been out working hard on the ground since February, knocking on doors.”
The candidates and the caucus have raised the funds needed to fund competitive campaigns, and polling shows they are doing well with voters, Denis said.
“The registration numbers were great for us, and the early vote has been great for us,” he said. “So I feel real confident about our folks and how they’re going to do tomorrow.”
Early voting results statewide did favor Democrats, with 307,877 votes cast compared to 259,913 for Republicans. Not all of those votes came in the five Senate districts.
Republicans out raising Democrats in all five races
But the campaign funding race has favored Republicans, according to the Campaign Contribution and Expense forms filed with the Secretary of State’s office updated through Nov. 1.
Even so, all of the candidates have brought in and spent large sums since the beginning of the year, showing just out important both parties see the races.
The Brower-Leslie race alone has generated nearly $1.2 million in contributions combined since January.
Roberson said a Republican majority in the Senate will bring more balance to the Legislature.
“And that’s going to encourage more bipartisanship, more cooperation, more collaboration,” he said. “And I think the end result will be better legislation, better public service for the people of Nevada, coming out of Carson City.”
Denis said he has a track record of working across the aisle with Republicans, and that his leadership will ensure bipartisanship and balance with the GOP.
“I think the balance has to come from leadership, and I’ve show that,” he said. “I know Sen. Roberson has said he wants to do that; he’s going to have to prove that with his actions. And so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll want to do that.”