July 8, 2015 — Nevada Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3), after a long consideration period, announced his intention this week to seek the Republican nomination for U. S. Senate. Heck will run for the seat being vacated by retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid who, of course, served prominently as Majority Leader during the 2007-2015 period.
Rep. Heck had always been high on the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s candidate recruitment list, right after Gov. Brian Sandoval (R). After long denying he had an interest in running for the federal post, Gov. Sandoval last month publicly removed himself from consideration, thus opening the way for Heck.
It further appears that the Nevada general election is now set. Both Heck and former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) appear to be consensus candidates for their respective parties and both potential Democratic and Republican politicians are now looking more intently at Heck’s open congressional seat rather than the statewide campaign. Continue reading >
June 26, 2015 — Former Sen. Kay Hagan (D), who unseated then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) in 2008 only to lose six years later to Sen. Thom Tillis (R), 47-49 percent, Wednesday announced that she would not challenge Sen. Richard Burr (R). Polling consistently made her the strongest Democrat to challenge the two-term incumbent Republican, but even she was nowhere near upset position.
Democrats do not yet have a viable candidate in the state that has defeated the most senators since the 1960s.
Red and Blue Recruitment
As we approach the midway point of the off-year, it is a good time to check how the two parties are faring in regard to candidate recruitment. A quick, cursory glance tells us that each side has a success ratio of about .500. Continue reading >
June 11, 2015 — The Republicans’ first choice to succeed retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, will take a pass. In an announcement made Tuesday, Gov. Sandoval, who never showed any real interest in running for the Senate, formally stated that he will not seek the seat.
Sandoval, who wants to complete his second term as Nevada’s chief executive said, “My undivided attention must be devoted to being the best governor, husband and father I can be. For these reasons, I will not seek the United States Senate seat that will be available in 2016.”
All attention now turns to Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3). While it was no secret that Sandoval was a long shot to run for the Senate at best, GOP leaders simultaneously courted Heck, and it is apparent that a Senate campaign announcement from him will soon be forthcoming. At that point, in what will likely be a marathon general election campaign, the battle between Heck and presumed-Democratic nominee Catherine Cortez Masto (former attorney general) will begin. Continue reading >
May 14, 2015 — Because they are defending so many states in the 2016 Senate elections (24 of the 34 in-cycle seats are Republican-held), the open Nevada seat could be one of the few available national offensive opportunities for the majority party. Therefore, Republican leaders have been working hard to field a strong candidate to fight to succeed retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D), and they may have found him.
Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) is the party leaders’ first choice and, based upon his 71 percent re-election performance last November, the Silver State chief executive is clearly the individual best positioned to convert the seat. But Sandoval is committed to serving his second term and consistently says he has no interest in a 2016 Senate race. That being the case, Republicans are turning to Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3), and late reports suggest their courting efforts are working.
After originally saying he would not challenge Reid when it looked like the senator would seek re-election, Rep. Heck now appears to be moving toward entering the open-seat race. With most other Republicans appearing ready to yield to him, Heck having a clear path to the GOP nomination is highly realistic. Continue reading >
April 14, 2015 — Retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) already have endorsed former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to replace the outgoing Minority Leader, but have they chosen the right person? A new poll casts doubt.
The Nevada consulting group calling themselves “Silver Bullet” conducted a poll of between 500-600 Nevada Democrats (the exact number of people polled is not specified) on April 7 and found that Masto is not the top choice of Nevada Democratic primary voters, and by quite a margin. The only other survey question asked presidential preference, and the Silver Bullet conclusions appear consistent with other independent data giving their polling methodology some credibility. According to the result, Hillary Clinton would lead Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) among Nevada Democrats, 55-14 percent.
Instead of professing support for Masto in the Senate race, the respondents, on a 44-20 percent split, prefer Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1). For her part, Titus, a former gubernatorial nominee, is clearly sending signals that she would like to run. Saying publicly that she is seriously considering entering the Senate campaign, while her Washington fundraising staff members aggressively tell PAC directors that the congresswoman could well become a Senate candidate, suggests a Titus for Senate campaign is certainly within the realm of possibility. Continue reading >
March 31, 2015 — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D) surprise retirement announcement on Friday quickly yielded another unexpected pair of political moves. After saying he wouldn’t run next year, Reid quickly expressed support for former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto as his successor. This, even before Cortez Masto issued a statement of candidacy.
Just a day later, he and Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) then both announced their support for Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to succeed Reed as the party leader. It was believed that he and Durbin would battle each other for the leadership post, but their action suggests a smooth transition will presumably occur.
Reid’s decision to take a stand in the Democratic primary is within character because he often involves himself in pre-primary Senate races around the country. But, it’s unusual even for him to do so before the candidate is in the race.
This being said, presumably it has been worked out in Democratic circles well behind the scenes that Cortez Masto is the preferred candidate. Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1), however, doesn’t appear part of this deal since she describes herself as “seriously considering” a bid for the Senate. Former Secretary of State Ross Miller (D), who lost the race for attorney general last November to Republican Adam Laxalt, is yet another potential Democratic candidate. Continue reading >
The New York Times is running a major story today saying that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has made the decision not to seek re-election and will soon announce his course of action.
Reid had been vociferously denying the many retirement rumors that were circulating earlier in the year, and was actively raising funds and taking steps to hire a campaign team. Now, the Times says he is reversing course.
Reid’s departure will naturally change the Senate in a dramatic way, but the decision has major political ramifications, as well. Republicans will be much more competitive in an open seat situation in Nevada, and will now likely see stronger candidates come forward.
Previously, Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) and representatives Joe Heck (R-NV-3) and Mark Amodei (R-NV-2) have all either said or indicated that they would not challenge Reid in 2016. In an open seat situation, this could all change.
The Reid retirement will fundamentally change the 2016 political picture.