Nevadans vote in legislative primaries
August 12, 2008
CARSON CITY – Early Nevada election returns Tuesday showed Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio leading challenger Sharron Angle, while another veteran Republican lawmaker, Assemblyman John Marvel, trailed in a packed, six-way primary battle.
The early returns showed Marvel, R-Battle Mountain, running second behind former Assemblyman Don Gustavson in Assembly District 32.
In other primary contests, GOP Assemblywoman Francis Allen of Las Vegas, who won a dismissal of a charge stemming from a fight that left her husband with a stab wound, was lagging behind in her re-election bid; and Assemblyman David Parks, D-Las Vegas, was ahead in his bid to move up to a state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Dina Titus.
Former Assemblyman John Bonaventura was trailing in his uphill challenge of Sen. Steven Horsford of North Las Vegas in a Democratic primary; while former GOP Assemblyman Lou Toomin was running behind Robert Zavala in his efforts to get the Republican nomination in the race for Titus’ Senate seat.
The highlight of the five Senate and 20 Assembly primaries was the battle between Raggio, first elected to the Senate in 1972, and Angle, an anti-tax conservative, for Raggio’s Reno-based Senate District 3 seat.
Raggio’s name recognition, strong support from other GOP leaders and a huge fundraising edge over Angle – $289,500 compared with her $35,000 – seemed to ensure him a primary victory. But the 81-year-old lawmaker took no chances, walking door-to-door in 90-degree-plus weather to meet with voters.
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Marvel, first elected to the Assembly in 1978, was in a tougher battle. Besides Gustavson, his other primary opponents included GOP activist Mike Weber, who came close to defeating him two years ago. And there was the added uncertainty of the way six primary candidates were splitting the vote in a low-turnout election.
Allen, in a four-way GOP primary contest for her Assembly District 4 seat, sent out what may be the campaign season’s most unusual mailer – telling constituents she’s divorcing her husband of just more than four months because of his “unstable” behavior during an argument that left him with a small stab wound on the arm.
Allen said the incident, which led to a felony charge that was dismissed in July, has become a campaign issue and she’s willing to talk with voters about it. Her husband, Paul Maineri, first told police Allen stabbed him but later said he accidentally stabbed himself.
Parks filed for Titus’ state Senate District 7A seat after Titus opted to run for Congress. He wound up in a three-way Democratic primary against Steve Nathan – a self-described moderate who calls Parks too liberal – and Brandon Casutt.
First-term Assemblyman Bob Beers, R-Henderson, was behind in a GOP primary battle for his Assembly District 21 seat against Jon Ozark, who figured he’ll benefit from Beers’ legislative record. That record includes a sharp break with his party in 2007 when he authored a bill to stop a major Las Vegas casino from requiring dealers to share tips with supervisors.
Beers, who has the same name as state Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, said he simply was trying to help people in his district with the measure, which wasn’t approved.
Assemblywoman Kathy McClain had the best primary battle of any of the incumbents. Fellow Democrat Patrick Boylan filed against her for the Assembly District 15 seat, then decided to suspend his campaign. But it was too late to have his name removed from the primary ballot.
Secretary of State Ross Miller estimated about 15 percent of Nevada’s nearly 1.3 million eligible voters would cast ballots statewide. Early reports out of Clark and Douglas counties indicated 15 percent might be optimistic while Washoe County officials said they were on target for 20 percent turnout.
At many polling places there were more volunteers than voters. Of the 1,100 registered voters in one precinct in east Reno, only about 20 voters showed up to cast ballots, and in Elko County’s West Wendover, only 44 out of 845 turned out.