Legislature Will Have A New Look in 2017
Experts say the primary election went about as expected for races in the Nevada legislature. In fact one Assembly race has already been decided. Still, there could be some shake-ups in the Assembly and Senate come November.
The 79th Legislative Session will begin in February, with a lot of new faces. There are two vacant Senate seats in the north, after Greg Brower, R-District 15, resigned and Debbie Smith, D-District 13, passed away, earlier this year. Heidi Gansert is the Republican nominee, looking to replace Brower. Her Democratic opponent will be Devon Reese, with David Colborne running on the Libertarian ticket. District 13 will also have three contenders. Democratic candidate, Julia Ratti will run against Republican Kent Bailey and Libertarian Brandon Jacobs. Those seats are expected to stay with the same party, but it is too early to tell if the Republicans will maintain their 11-10 majority.
"The Democrats see a seat that they could get down south, and in fact, they even have their eyes on Brower's old district," Eric Herzik, Political Science Department Chair at the University of Nevada said.
Herzik says the biggest race could be in Clark County, where Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman is running against Nicole Cannizzaro in Senate District 6. That could determine which party controls the Senate.
There will also be some new Assembly members after the general election, including some freshmen from northern Nevada. Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-District 25, was appointed to the State Board of Education. His seat will be filled by Republican Jill Tolles or Democrat Eli Smith. Randy Kirner, R-District 26, did not run for re-election. Lisa Krasner will be his Republican replacement. She defeated Jason Guinasso in the primary election, and will run, unopposed in November. Krasner is a conservative who says her main focus is economic development.
"Let businesses compete and thrive with low taxes, low fees, and low regulations on businesses so they can compete, rather than the government picking winners and losers," Krasner said.
The Assembly had been blue since 1985, until the GOP took a 25-17 majority in the 2014 election. The midterm election saw very little Democratic voter turnout, and the Republicans turned both houses red.
"You had this swing of ten seats, and ironically, the majority were in Clark County, which is the Democratic stronghold," Herzik said.
Herzik says this year will be a different story. Many of the first-term Republicans from 2014 could be defeated with normal voter turnout. Three have decided not to run for re-election or seek another office. That could flip the Assembly back to the Democrats by five or six seats.
"We could certainly see the Democrats take back, certainly the Assembly, and after last night's results, perhaps the Senate as well," Herzik said.
Krasner says it is too early to tell what the make-up of the legislature will be, next year, but she says it doesn't change what she wants to accomplish.
"Regardless if they're Republican, Democrat, nonpartisan, I'm willing to work with anyone and get things done for the best interest of the people of the state of Nevada," Krasner said.