Saturday, June 16, 2012

Post-Primary #NVLeg Senate Ratings

I promised you this on Wednesday, so I'll start delivering today. You asked, so you shall receive. Now that the primary is over, it's time to take a fresh look at the hot races that will determine the balance of power in Carson City and Washington, DC, next year. And today, we will be starting with another look at the upper house of Nevada's Legislature: The Senate.

When we last checked in March, Republicans were starting to get nervous about their chances of retaking the Senate. And as you'll see below, there's still plenty of reasons for them to have the jitters (though Democrats shouldn't get overconfident, either).

Clark County

SD 5
Henderson- Green Valley, Silverado Ranch, Old Henderson


US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 56%
McCain (R) 42%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 54%
Angle (R) 41%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 50%
R Reid (D) 45%

Race Rating: Tossup

So Former Henderson City Council Member Steve Kirk handily won his GOP primary against "tea partier" Annette Teijero. Now, the really tough part begins.

Early on, Kirk was seen by many pundits as at least a slight favorite (despite the partisan numbers) because of his strong fundraising. However, he was ultimately forced to spend in the primary. That gave Democrat and Former State Senator Joyce Woodhouse (who entered just this year, after Senator Shirley Breeden announced her retirement) a chance to catch up on fundraising... And get a head start on persuading voters in the field.

While I'm not yet comfortable taking this seat out of "Tossup Territory", I am thinking Senate Republican Leader Michael Roberson will soon be sweating bullets because of this race... If he hasn't started already. If Kirk loses to Woodhouse, then Democrats will keep the Senate.

SD 6
Las Vegas- Summerlin, Northwest


US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 55%
McCain (R) 43%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 53%
Angle (R) 43%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 52%
R Reid (D) 44%

Race Rating: Tossup

If Republicans have to sweat bullets on 5, then Democrats must be getting a little jittery on 6. While Senate Democratic Caucus endorsed candidate Benny Yerushalmi won the primary, he only won with 56% against "some dude" Tom Welsh (who barely spent any $). Some insiders thought Yerushalmi's strong fundraising would help Team Blue crush "tea party" darling Mark Hutchison in this seat being vacated by Democrat Allison Copening (who beat GOP incumbent Bob Beers in 2008 in a more GOP friendly district), but this week's primary results should make them rethink that assumption.

While Hutchison, the lawyer hand-picked by then Governor Jim Gibbons (R) to fight the Affordable Care Act in court, may be too conservative on paper for this swing seat, Yerushalmi and the Caucus clearly have more work ahead of them in convincing voters to choose him instead.

SD 9
Enterprise- Rhodes Ranch, Mountain's Edge, Southern Highlands


US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 58%
McCain (R) 40%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 54%
Angle (R) 41%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 50%
R Reid (D) 46%

Race Rating: Leans Democratic

So Roberson got his way in the end after all. Mari St. Martin will indeed be the GOP nominee here. However, that's coming at a very steep price. While Brent Jones failed to upset on Tuesday, his "tea party" fueled opposition to St. Martin and Roberson succeeded in damaging the former Nevada Republican Party spokesperson's public image. In branding St. Martin as a "reckless party girl", they reminded voters of their Former Senator turned Maxim model (Elizabeth Halseth). And in the end, that does nothing but further weaken Team Red in this seat that redistricting first put into play.

Meanwhile on the Democratic side, Justin Jones breezed through his primary, raised over $130,000 so far this year, and has been working the field like crazy. While Nevada Democrats aren't taking this seat for granted, they must be smiling ay the kind of rock solid campaign Jones is running... And giggling at the train wreck Republicans are trying desperately to salvage.

SD 18
Las Vegas- Northwest, Centennial Hills


US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 50%
McCain (R) 48%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
Angle (R) 50%
H Reid (D) 45%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 57%
R Reid (D) 38%

Race Rating: Tossup

Normally, this kind of seat is incredibly difficult for Democrats to win. However, a "near perfect storm" has put flipping this seat into the realm of possibility.

First off, the North had to give up a Senate seat. Secondly, Democrats scored big time when Kelli Ross, local businesswoman and wife of Las Vegas City Council Member Steve Ross, decided to run here. And finally, they've been helped by the ugly Republican infighting spilling over to local races.

Still, Roberson approved candidate Scott Hammond survived the primary... And that part isn't sweet music to Democrats' ears. In this primary, Roberson got to breathe a big sigh of relief.

However, Assembly Member Hammond now has a bigger task ahead in fighting for his promotion in the general. And since Kelli Ross has managed to thread the needle in preventing the Democratic base from throwing her overboard (she survived her own primary challenge from progressive favorite Donna Schlemmer) while maintaining her appeal to independent and crossover Republican voters, she can't be counted out. This is likely still a close race that Republicans will have to fight hard to win.

SD 1
North Las Vegas- Eldorado, Aliante


US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 64%
McCain (R) 34%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 60%
Angle (R) 35%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
R Reid (D) 54%
Sandoval (R) 42%

Race Rating: Safe Democratic

This is likely the only time you'll ever see this seat on the board. I'm only putting it on today as a courtesy to anyone who's wondering how progressive challenger Pat Spearman's shocking landslide defeat of Blue Dog incumbent John Lee changes the state of this race. Basically, it doesn't. For goodness sake, Republicans didn't even bother to run a candidate here! While the Independent American candidate will probably get a higher than usual share of the vote in this Nor'town based district, Spearman will most likely take over Lee's old desk in the Senate Chambers next year.

Washoe County

SD 15
Reno- Caughlin Ranch, Northwest, West Downtown


US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 57%
McCain (R) 40%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 54%
Angle (R) 40%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 57%
R Reid (D) 37%

Race Rating: Tossup

Oddly enough, the race likely to provide the most drama in November caused next to none in the primary. Republican Greg Brower and Democrat Sheila Leslie are now set to battle on to November. And while Brower has the advantages of a well organized county party (as opposed to the NV GOP train wreck), a very slight GOP registration edge, and a strong fundraiser in Brower, Leslie has the advantages of a strong state Democratic Party run field operation, likely strength at the top of the ticket (in private polling, Obama has been surprisingly resilient in Washoe County), and a strong grassroots campaigner in Leslie. This will likely be hard fought all the way to the end, and Washoe Republicans will be scrambling furiously here because they know the Senate is lost if Brower loses.

So what does the final count look like? Again, let me give the latest scoreboard, which is ranked highest to lowest in likelihood of Democratic win.

9 (Flip)
5 (Hold)
15 (Flip)
6 (Hold)
18 (Flip)

(And again, there's a better chance of Hell freezing over than that of Republicans winning 1.)

If I had to draw a line now, it would again fall just after 15. This would give Democrats 12 seats, or a net gain of 1 (GOP flips 6, but Dems flip 9 & 15). However, things may change drastically because we have 4 Tossup seats. Expect much more action in the war for control of #NVLeg this summer and fall.




































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