By Jim Ellis
March 20, 2018 — Veteran New York Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester) who, at 88 years of age was the oldest member of the House of Representatives, passed away on Friday after suffering a fall-related concussion earlier in the week.
Her one close re-election call came in 2014, when she surprisingly survived by just 871 votes. She rebounded in 2016 to defeat the same opponent, Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini (R), 54-42 percent. Prior to her service in Congress, Slaughter spent two terms in the New York State Assembly and one in the Monroe County Legislature.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) will now call a special election for the winner to serve the balance of the term and presumably run in the 2018 regular election. In accordance with New York election law, the Monroe County political leadership will choose party nominees. Therefore, no primary elections will be held.
New York’s 25th Congressional District is fully contained within Monroe County and covers over 96 percent of the county population. Despite the political hiccup Rep. Slaughter experienced in the 2014 election, NY-25 performs as a reliable Democratic district. Hillary Clinton carried the seat 55-39 percent over President Trump. In previous presidential elections, President Obama carried the district twice: 59-39 percent over Mitt Romney in 2012, and in similar fashion four years earlier (59-40 percent) against Sen. John McCain.
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), who is mired in a toss-up re-election campaign, received a major political break as the Nevada candidate filing period closed on Friday.
Perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian, who does well in Republican primaries despite never having won a general election in multiple campaigns for various offices, decided to officially back away from his previously announced primary challenge to Sen. Heller. Instead, the five-time candidate will run in the open 3rd Congressional District, a seat he lost to freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson), 47-46 percent, in 2016. Rep. Rosen is currently the leading Democratic senatorial candidate.
Tarkanian agreed to abandon his Senate challenge after President Trump called upon him to do so in order to give the GOP its best chance of holding the important swing seat in November. The senator now faces only four minor Republican primary candidates, virtually assuring him of an easy run for re-nomination. Rep. Rosen is expected to convincingly win the Democratic nomination on June 12, since she drew only five minor opponents.
In the open 3rd District, Tarkanian’s late entry into this campaign does not guarantee him the party nomination despite his one-point general election loss two years ago. Already in the GOP race are state Sen. Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas), former state Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman, ex-Clark County Republican Party chairman Dave McKeon, the son of former US Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), and former television news reporter Michelle Mortensen, among others. All of the aforementioned have been running since Rosen announced for the Senate in mid-January.
In other Nevada news, Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas), who had announced he would not seek a second term in Congress because of sexual harassment accusations but then began reconsidering his retirement decision, did not file for re-election. Democrats have a 4th District primary battle between ex-US Rep. Steven Horsford and state Sen. Pat Spearman. Former US Rep. Cresent Hardy, who unseated Horsford in 2014 but lost to Rep. Kihuen two years later, is favored to win the Republican nomination.