Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nevada Primary Recap

To a large extent, we didn't see too many surprises last night. Both Shelley Berkley and Dean Heller won their respective primaries for US Senate, as did John Oceguera in NV-03. Yep, everything seemed to go smoothly and as planned...

Except it didn't.

While Danny Tarkanian ultimately prevailed in NV-04, he did so only narrowly... And only narrowly over the underfunded Barbara Cegavske. And in another embarrassing blow to "Baby Tark", he lost to Cegavske in Clark County! Oh yes, that's right. Barbara Cegavske actually beat "Lil' Tark Shark" in the territory where his last name is golden, and he needed the rurals to save his sorry behind.

And in the Legislature, we saw some dramatic upheaval. In AD 39 in rural Northern Nevada, incumbent Assembly Member Kelly Kite lost to "tea party" backed Jim Wheeler. While Kite was no moderate, he voted for last year's budget... Which still made him insufficiently conservative for the "tea party". In AD 9 in Southwest Vegas, GOP Establishment backed Victoria DeLaGuerra-Seaman narrowly lost to "some dude" Kelly Hurst. And in AD 35, which is just to the south of AD 9, Adam Cegavske (Barbara's son) lost to "some dude" Tom Blanchard.

And then, there's SD 1.

Michael Flores, who helped organize the opposition to [John] Lee, said liberals were motivated to oust Lee after the last legislative session, when he pushed a controversial bill to allow guns on college campuses and succeeded in pushing through another bill that could pave the way for more development around Lake Tahoe.

“Last session was really ugly,” Flores said. “We couldn’t sit around and let nothing happen. We couldn’t sit around and not follow through on our threat.” [...]

Lee had, for a time, been running for Congress, against Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford. But when Lee dropped out of that race and ran for re-election, he quickly earned the full-throttled support of the Democratic Party establishment.

Even such groups that had tangled with him in Carson City, like the state teacher’s union and AFL-CIO — the traditional Democratic political muscle — remained neutral in the race, instead of opposing him.

Who could have guessed? Who could have guessed?

This was the first time that the Netroots/Grassroots Left organized to unseat an incumbent Democratic legislator for voting too far to the right. And since John Lee had quite the conservative record for representing a safe Democratic seat, progressives seized on the opportunity to correct that. And despite all the money spent by Lee and the support he received from the Democratic Establishment and the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Lee only managed to score 37% yesterday against military veteran, college lecturer, ordained minister, and out lesbian Pat Spearman. And interestingly enough, voters soured on Lee because of his opposition to progressive goals like marriage equality, fair taxation, reproductive rights, and good environmental stewardship.

While Nevada has become accustomed to seeing bloody primaries on the right, this is the first time that we saw a successful challenge from the left. And this probably won't be the last time.

All in all, we had an interesting night here in The Silver State last night. And later this week, I'll explain how this affects the general election.

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