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Anti-mask Nevada lawmaker to run for swing seat in Congress


By SAM METZ AP / Report for America

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — A state lawmaker who marched in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, and was later censured for refusing to wear a mask in the Statehouse is running for Congress in Nevada.

Annie Black, a Republican Assemblywoman from Mesquite, announced on Tuesday that she planned to challenge Rep. Steven Horsford in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District.

The district, which contains minority-majority urban areas and rural ranching counties north of Las Vegas, traded hands between Republicans and Democrats over the last decade. The redrawn district maps passed by Nevada lawmakers last year put more Democrats in the newly drawn congressional district, which Biden would have won by 8.5 percentage points.

Assemblywoman Annie Black

Black, who defeated an incumbent assemblyman in the 2020 Republican primary, said in a statement that her campaign would be focused on economic issues, including small businesses and Nevada’s high unemployment rate. She blamed President Joe Biden and Horsford for “destroying our state and bankrupting Nevadans.”

Her announcement also referenced her opposition to mask mandates in the Statehouse.

“As Governor Sisolak and the state legislature handed down mask mandates, Annie took a stand on the Assembly floor and was censured by Democrats for refusing to wear a mask and provide a vaccine passport,” it said.

Nevada has a mask mandate for indoor public places in most counties, but allowed lawmakers who provided proof of vaccination to go maskless in the Statehouse last spring. It also has carved out exemptions for vaccinated guests at large events like professional sporting events, concerts and trade shows. Sisolak has implemented state mandates as emergency measures and executive orders.

Debates over mandates will likely return to the forefront as a variant-fueled surge sweeps the state. The number of new cases reported daily has steadily risen in recent weeks and state officials reported a 14-day moving average of 1,896 new daily cases on Tuesday.

Though Black has said that she left the U.S. Capitol when barricades were breached on Jan. 6, 2021, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee attacked her for taking part in the insurrection and argued it made her an unfit candidate.

“Annie Black is a far-right extremist who was roundly condemned by Nevadans for taking part in the January 6 attack on our nation’s Capitol. It is a dog whistle and further proof of her extremist agenda that she would announce her campaign during the anniversary week of the insurrection,” spokesperson Johanna Warshaw said in a statement.

Black is set to run against several Republicans in the June 2022 primary, including 2020 candidate Sam Peters, a retired Air Force Officer; Jessie Vargas, a former professional boxer; and Chance Bonaventura, an aide to Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore.

Horsford defeated former Assemblyman Jim Marchant by 4.4 percentage points in 2020, but Democrats worry that low voter turnout and historic trends favoring the minority party in midterm election years makes the district vulnerable.

The Nevada Current reported in December that Congresswoman Dina Titus, a Democrat who represents Nevada’s first congressional district, warned union members at an AFL-CIO town hall there was a chance all three Democrats representing Nevada in the U.S. House of Representatives could be defeated in 2022.

“Republicans are going to turn out, and they are excited,” she said.

This story has been corrected to show that Black announced her plans to run in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District on Tuesday, not Monday.
Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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