Election Cycle Heats Up With New Filings
It may seem like we just finished an election year, but the 2018 election cycle is already starting to shape up.
Candidates for the judiciary are starting to file to run for office this year and candidates for other officers will start filing in March.
A race that is already gaining interest is the one to replace Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D), who represents Congressional District 4. Kihuen announced he would not run for re-election after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced.
Jon Ralston of the Nevada Independent told State of Nevada State Senator Pat Spearman (D-NV01) has already filed papers with the Federal Elections Commission that allow her to start raising money for the race.
He said that doesn't mean she will run, but it is unusual for a candidate to not run after filing that paperwork.
Ralston said the big question for Spearman will be money.
"The issue is where is she going to be able to raise money from," he said. "A lot of progressives like Pat Spearman, but she has no natural fundraising base nationally. Maybe LGBT groups might give to her. She has been very active on those issues but that's not a lot of money."
Ralston said sources have told him former Congressman Steven Horsford will run for the CD4 spot. And if he does, Ralston believes the state's Democratic establishment -- often referred to as the Reid Machine, after former Sen. Harry Reid -- will support him.
"I don't think that the establishment thinks that Pat Spearman is the strongest candidate," he said. "And I think that Steven Horsford still has ties to the establishment."
Ralston said Democrats believe the seat should be in their hands, but with Kihuen's problems and the possibility of a strong Republican candidate, it could be up for grabs. That's why they don't want a primary election fight.
"I think the Democratic establishment, Harry Reid and his apparatus here, would prefer just to have Steven Horsford in there and nobody else," he said.
But neither Spearman nor North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee have indicated they would back away from a primary race, Ralston said.
As for the Republican side of the race, Ralston said Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony is already running and former Congressman Cresent Hardy may also run.
Another significant race this year will be for governor. Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) is term-limited out this year.
Clark County Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani have already announced their candidacy for the Democratic ticket. On the Republican side, Attorney General Adam Laxalt is running, as is State Treasurer Dan Schwartz.
"I think the governor's race is the most fascinating governor's race of all the ones I've ever covered -- and I've covered way too many of them," Ralston said.
According to Ralston, Sisolak is the kind of Democratic candidate that could win the governor's seat. Ralston said Sisolak is more centrist than Giunchigliani, who he said is unabashedly liberal.
But, he also pointed out 2018 could be a very different year for politics, as some people predict a Democratic "wave" could take over statehouses and congressional districts across the country.
"2018 is going to be a different kind of year, I think, and so I think she [Giunchigliani] has a chance," he said. "I think that if there is a Democratic wave here that you have very high Democratic turnout relative to a mid-term. You have depressed Republican turnout because they're depressed about Donald Trump... that a more-to-the-left candidate would have a chance."
But Ralston was quick to point out that the favorite on the Republican side, Adam Laxalt, is a "formidable candidate" who has the money and the connections to run a strong campaign.
"I think Adam Laxalt is a heavy favorite over Dan Schwartz, who by the way... is a very fun guy to cover because you never know what he's going to say," Ralston said. "And he'll really go after Laxalt, but he won't have nearly Laxalt's money."
Jon Ralston, editor and founder, The Nevada Independent