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Primaries Across Nevada: Who Has Advantage Heading Into November?

Voters in Nevada picked their share of congressional candidates to head into the fall's election and set up the race to replace Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Longtime political reporter Jon Ralston said one of the key things learned in this election is the Democratic Party is not as liberal as a lot of people thought.

He pointed to Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani's loss to the moderate Steve Sisolak as proof.

As far as the path to victory for Sisolak in the general election, Ralston said Sisolak needs the Blue Wave everyone is talking about to become a reality.

"He's going to have to hope that it's a Democrat year," he said. "That the so-called Blue Wave -- even if it's not a wave -- it's going to be a blue year in Nevada, which rarely happens in off years."

Another factor could be President Trump, Ralston said. A lot of nonpartisans are not thrilled with the president, but Republican candidate for governor Adam Laxalt could be tethered to him after Trump endorsed Laxalt and Laxalt thanked Trump for it.

"Donald Trump is either going to be Steve Sisolak's best friend, or he's not going to be a factor," Ralston said. "I think he's going to be a factor -- the question is how big."

And as for Laxalt's road to victory, Ralston said he needs his base of white voters and voters in the rural counties to turn out.

Support comes from

Voters in rural Nevada sent Laxalt to the attorney general's office in 2014 even though he lost in Clark and Washoe County. 

Ralston also believes painting Sisolak as a crony, corrupt county commissioner -- which he says is already underway -- might work.

"They are going to run an absolutely scorched earth campaign against Steve Sisolak," he said. "Even though Steve Sisolak's campaign was brilliant, and ruthless, and tough in the primary, he is going to have to decide if he is going to bring a knife to a gun fight [...] if he does, he is going to lose to Adam Laxalt -- who I believe is a slight favorite anyhow."

Much was made of the millions Sisolak spent to win the primary. Ralston pointed out that Laxalt "didn't have to spend a dime" to win his because it really wasn't much of a race.

However, Ralston believes it is not really the individual war chests of each campaign that will make a difference, but rather money from groups outside Nevada, including so-called dark money from nonprofit organizations that do not have to disclose their donors, that will pour in for this race.

Ralston also said that outside money will go to two important congressional races in Nevada, those in districts 3 and 4. 

He said the GOP believe they can flip those seats to red this year, and help block Democrats from taking a majority in the House. He said a lot of national money will be spent getting Danny Tarkanian into district 3 and Cresent Hardy into district 4.

Click here for an entire list of winners from the 2018 primaries.


Jon Ralston, the Nevada Independent

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