Sandoval favored to cruise to re-election

Nevada voters have one final chance, after two weeks of early voting, to narrow the field ahead of November’s general election. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Nevada’s closed primary system means only registered voters can cast ballots for races involving candidates of their political party. Independents and members of minor parties vote in nonpartisan races.


First-term Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval is expected to easily defeat four GOP primary challengers and the popular chief executive will be favored to cruise to re-election in November no matter who emerges from the eight-way Democratic primary.


Freshman state Sen. Mark Hutchison and former state Sen. Sue Lowden have been embroiled in the nastiest race in Nevada’s primary election — for a part-time job that pays $64,000 a year.

Hutchison, a wealthy Las Vegas attorney chosen by Sandoval to be his trusted lieutenant and possible successor in the governor’s mansion, has spent about $1 million battling against Lowden, a wealthy casino owner who lost in a packed 2010 U.S. Senate GOP primary to conservative activist Sharron Angle.

Nevada’s lieutenant governor promotes Nevada tourism, serves on the economic development board and presides over the state Senate during legislative sessions. But should Sandoval leave office midterm in 2016 for other political pursuits, the second-in-command would take up residence in the governor’s mansion.

The winner of today’s contest, which also includes Chris Dyer, is likely to face Lucy Flores, a two-term Democratic assemblywoman from Las Vegas who has the backing of Sen. Harry Reid.


A conservative state assemblyman and a tea party organizer square off in the GOP primary in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District to likely challenge incumbent Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., in November. Horsford is expected to easily top one primary foe. Niger Innis, a tea party organizer who acknowledges not voting very much in the past decade, faces Assemblyman Cresent Hardy of Mesquite in the GOP primary.


Republican infighting over adherence to conservative ideals is very much in play in several state legislative races and the fight for control of the Nevada Senate. GOP minority leaders in both the Senate and Assembly, Sen. Michael Roberson of Henderson and Assemblyman Pat Hickey of Reno, face primary challenges from the far right, as do several other incumbent lawmakers. GOP turmoil could dash Republican hopes of reclaiming the Senate, where Democrats hold an 11-10 majority.


Nevada election officials predict voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary could hit an all-time low. With no top ballot races to ignite voter enthusiasm, Secretary of State Ross Miller expects voter turnout of 15 percent to 20 percent. The lowest primary voter turnout in recent memory was in 2008, when only 18 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. Fewer voters heading to the polls could mean upset victories for dark horse candidates if their supporters turn out in greater numbers at the polls.


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