Neal will oppose Guinn |

Neal will oppose Guinn

Brendan Riley, The Associated Press

CARSON CITY — There were lots of surprises as Nevada’s candidate filing deadline hit Monday — especially Democratic state Sen. Joe Neal’s last-minute challenge of Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn.

Neal, D-North Las Vegas, filed after Matt Dushoff, a Democrat and deputy state attorney general expected to run against Guinn, dropped out of contention earlier Monday.

Other surprises included Clark County Commissioner Erin Kenny’s decision to file for lieutenant governor; and Democratic Party activist Travis Souza’s last-minute challenge of Rep. Jim Gibbons, D-Nev.

In the Legislature, former casino regulator and lobbyist Richard Bunker filed as a GOP candidate for a state Senate seat; and George Dini, son of veteran Assemblyman Joe Dini, D-Yerington, who served 36 years in the Legislature, filed for his father’s seat.

Assemblyman David Parks, D-Las Vegas, wound up with a Democratic primary opponent with the same name — David Parks.

And former Lt. Gov. Lonnie Hammargren, a Las Vegas brain surgeon who ran unsuccessfully for governor four years ago, filed for a Las Vegas-based state Assembly seat.

“The last day of filing hasn’t failed to disappoint any of us,” Secretary of State Dean Heller said.

When the dust settled, some incumbents found themselves in good shape with little or no major competition. A few have no opposition at all — meaning they’re as good as elected. They’ll just have to get at least one vote next November to make it official.

The governor’s race is one of the most crowded. Neal, an also-ran in the 1998 governor’s race and a strong advocate of higher casino taxes, is the best known among the 16 candidates to challenge Gov. Guinn.

Also in the governor’s race is Democrat Barbara Scott, a former topless dancer.

The Legislature’s senior member, 80-year-old Lawrence Jacobsen, R-Minden, will lose his Senate seat because of redistricting plan. Minden will be in the district of Mike McGinnis, R-Fallon, whose term expires in 2004.

Candidates with no opposition at all include Clark County District Judge Mark Gibbons, now running for the Nevada Supreme Court.

State legislators who wound up with no opposition included state Sen. Terry Care, D-Las Vegas; and Assembly members Chris Giunchigliani and Genie Ohrenschall, both southern Nevada Democrats.

Many candidates have no September primary election opposition, and only have to worry about the November general election.

The no-primary candidates include Reps. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., and leading candidates for several statewide elective posts, including Democrat John Hunt and Republican Brian Sandoval, both running for state attorney general; state Treasurer Brian Krolicki; Secretary of State Heller; and state Controller Kathy Augustine.

Krolicki will face former state Treasurer Ken Santor, a Republican-turned-Democrat, in the general; while Augustine will face Assemblyman John Lee, D-Las Vegas, in November. Lee is making his first bid for statewide elective office.

Other legislators trying to move up the political ladder include Assembly members Barbara Cegavske, Sandra Tiffany and Dennis Nolan, all Las Vegas Republicans, who are hoping to win state Senate seats.

But Nolan will have his hands full in the GOP primary for the state Senate Dist. 9 seat, now that Bunker, chairman of the Colorado River Commission, is in the race.

Last year’s reapportionment forced several lawmakers into battles for political survival because their districts were redrawn.

Assembly members Greg Brower and Sharron Angle, both Reno-area Republicans, now face one another in Assembly Dist. 26; and Assembly members Debbie Smith, a Democrat, and Don Gustavson, a Republican, both want the Assembly Dist. 30 seat.

A few former legislators are attempting political comebacks, including ex-Assemblywoman Gene Segerblom who’s running as a Democrat in southern Nevada’s Assembly Dist. 20. Segerblom served four terms before her defeat in 2000.

Also attempting a comeback are Warren Hardy, a one-term assemblyman in 1991; and Lou Toomin, a one-term assemblyman in 1993. Toomin is in the Assembly Dist. 15 race and Hardy is in the Senate Dist. 12 race, both in southern Nevada.

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