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What happened with…? The Current breaks down some primary election narratives

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What happened with…? The Current breaks down some primary election narratives

Jun 13, 2024 | 7:30 am ET
By April Corbin Girnus
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What happened with…? The Current breaks down some primary election narratives
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Early voting takes place at Galleria Mall Thursday, May 30, 2024, in Henderson. (Ronda Churchill/Nevada Current)

With dozens of races and hundreds of candidates, there’s a lot to pay attention to. Here are seven takeaways from Nevada’s 2024 Primary.

Lombardo-backed candidates fared well

He wasn’t officially on the ballot, but Gov. Joe Lombardo was no bystander.

Lombardo issued a statement Tuesday boasting of the “resounding primary victories” of the seven candidates he endorsed in the contest primary races.

The first-term governor has been aggressive this election cycle in recruiting and promoting candidates for the state legislature. He is hoping to stop Democrats from securing a supermajority, which would give the party the power to override his vetoes, of which there have been dozens.

The Lombardo slate consisted of April Arndt in Assembly District 21, Annette Dawson Owens in Assembly District 29, Rafael Arroyo in Assembly District 41, state Sen. Carrie Buck in Senate District 5, Lori Rogich in Senate District 11, John Steinbeck in Senate District 18, and John Ellison in Senate District 19.

Two of the three Lombardo-backed Assembly candidates — Arndt and Arroyo — now advance to compete against Democratic incumbents. The third, Dawson Owens, is in an open district currently controlled by Democrats.

On the Senate side: Ellison will automatically win the general election (because nobody else filed to represent the safe red district), Steinbeck will face Democrat Ron Bilodeau in a district the Senate Democrats have not yet shown much interest in, Buck will attempt to defend her seat in a district the Senate Democrats have shown a lot of interest in, and Rogich will take on a Democratic incumbent.

Victories for Lombardo-backed candidates did not fully extend into Nevada’s national races. Lombardo endorsed Sam Brown and John Lee, who won their respective Republican primaries for U.S. Senate and Nevada’s 4th Congressional District. But he also endorsed Marty O’Donnell, who placed fourth in the Republican primary for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District.

Lombardo previously backed Assemblywoman Heidi Kasama in CD3 but she dropped out of the race, saying she wanted to focus on securing state-level wins. Kasama is now running for reelection in Assembly District 2; her primary was uncontested.

Senate Democrats also fared well

Like Lombardo, Senate Democrats declared victory after primary election day, noting in a press release they won five of five contested races.

That included a decisive victory in Senate District 4, by state Sen. Dina Neal  over Laura Perkins, a first-term Nevada System of Higher Education regent who some observers believed would benefit from public allegations of corruption and reports of an FBI investigation against Neal. North Las Vegas Mayor Pamela Goynes-Brown and Councilman Isaac Barron endorsed Perkins, reflecting tensions the city had with Neal on how to address the blighted neighborhood Windsor Park.

But unofficial results as of Wednesday had Neal with 72% of votes and Perkins at 28% — the widest victory margin achieved in all of the State Senate Democratic primaries.

No Republican or third party candidates filed for the SD4 seat, meaning Neal will secure an additional term once the primary results are official.

Another notable primary victory for the Senate Democrats occurred in Senate District 3, where state Sen. Rochelle Nguyen fended off a primary challenge from Geoconda Hughes, a nurse and daughter of the Culinary union’s former secretary-treasurer.

Culinary targeted Nguyen specifically for her role in spearheading the passage of legislation the union opposed last legislative session.

In addition to Neal and Nguyen, the other Senate Democrats-backed candidates were: Assemblywoman Angie Taylor, who defeated Reno City Councilwoman Naomi Duerr in Senate District 15; NSHE Regent Michelee “Shelly” Cruz-Crawford, who prevailed over Assemblywoman Clara Thomas in Senate District 1, and Jeniffer Atlas, who won over Christian Bishop in Senate District 5.

Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, who was uncontested in her primary, said in a statement the caucus is now turning its full attention to the general election and “to electing state senators committed to protecting Nevadans rights and building an economy that works for everyone.”

The statement continued, “Senate Republicans have nominated a slate of candidates who will stand in the way of more affordable housing, cheaper prescription drugs and health care, increased clean energy and who want to radically roll back reproductive rights.”

Culinary didn’t fare as well

The Culinary union saw mixed results with its pair of Democratic candidates — winning an open Assembly seat and losing against an incumbent senator.

In the State Assembly District 17 Democratic primary, Culinary member Linda Hunt defeated the Democratic caucus-backed candidate Mishon Montgomery. In the State Senate District 3 Democratic primary, Geoconda Hughes lost to incumbent state Sen. Rochelle Nguyen by 10 percentage points.

“Building power for workers isn’t about one election or one cycle but a long-term commitment,” said Culinary secretary-treasurer Ted Pappageorge in a statement after the races were called, “and for 89 years, win or lose, the Culinary Union has fought for workers’ rights to be heard and respected in this community, and we shall continue.”

Democratic Socialist defeated

The Democratic Socialist who found herself the subject of attack ads that compared her to President Donald Trump lost Assembly District 10’s Democratic primary. Val Thomason came in second to Venise Karris, the preferred choice of the Assembly Democratic Caucus.

Thomason, who has attempted to organize and push more progressives to run for the state office, struck an optimistic attitude about the loss.

“We were only about 400 votes shy with the entire establishment against us,” she posted on social media. “I think after this we will get even stronger.”

NLV, Nye County ballot questions

Two City of North Las Vegas ballot questions to extend ‘90s era property taxes that were due to expire saw strong support and will pass. One collects 23.5 cents per $100 of assessed home value, is used to build parks and fire stations and maintain streets. The other collects 20 cents per $100 to fund new police officers and support staff for police departments.

Unofficial results as of Wednesday showed both questions receiving more than 75% support from voters.

Meanwhile, voters in Nye County soundly rejected a proposal to levy an additional $0.05 per gallon tax on special fuel that includes diesel fuel for the exclusive purpose of construction and maintenance of public highways. Unofficial results as of Wednesday showed only 30% of voters supported the measure.

Post-Goodman era becomes clearer

Former Congresswoman Shelley Berkley and Las Vegas Councilwoman Victoria Seaman will face off in the City of Las Vegas mayoral race. The women led the crowded pack of 14 candidates who were seeking to succeed Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who herself succeeded husband Oscar Goodman.

Berkley was the top vote-getter, securing 35% of the vote, according to unofficial results. Seaman received 30%. Councilman Cedric Crear placed third with 19%. All other candidates received less than 5% support each.

Henderson backs incumbents

An effort to oust a trio of Henderson City Council incumbents appears to have fallen short, unofficial results show. Councilmembers Jim Seebock and Dan Stewart both secured more than 50% of votes in the primary, which means they will be declared the winner and forgo the general election.

Incumbent Dan Shaw is leading in votes but not over the 50% threshold, meaning he will likely advance into a general election runoff with Monica “Doc” Larsen.