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Voter turnout tops projections for primary

by Geoff Dornan
gdornan@nevadaappeal.com

Total voter turnout for this year’s primary actually beat the gloomy projections offered by pundits around the state.

When early voting, absentee ballots and Tuesday’s election day voters were added up, 222,135 of the state’s 1.15 million active voters went to the polls — 19.25 percent.

But a much higher turnout is expected in November since several interesting races not featured in the primary will be up for grabs.

Still at the top in statewide interest is the lieutenant governor’s contest between Republican state Sen. Mark Hutchison and Democratic Assemblywoman Lucy Flores.

The reason is the widely held belief Gov. Brian Sandoval will run against Sen. Harry Reid in two years, making the Flores-Hutchison contest a potential governor’s race.

Through the primary, Flores had raised $348,892 and spent just $103,552.

Hutchison, who had a contentious primary battle against former state Sen. Sue Lowden, had a much more expensive primary. While he has raised $550,644, his latest report lists expenses of more than $1 million.

In addition, Independent American Mike Little of Moapa is a potential drain on some of Hutchison’s votes in that race.

One race that will be anything but hotly contested is Brian Sandoval’s bid for a second term. He won 90 percent of the vote despite having four primary opponents.

The victor in a field of eight Democrats is Bob Goodman, who was economic development and tourism director for Mike O’Callaghan in the 1970s and later held the same post in Wyoming.

Despite calling himself a 42-year Nevada resident, Goodman listed no income, no property and no business ties to Nevada in his filings with the Secretary of State. In addition, the phone number he listed in Las Vegas doesn’t accept incoming calls.

The race to replace termed-out Ross Miller as Secretary of State is expected to be a battle. Republican former state Sen. Barbara Cegavske is running against termed-out Democratic Treasurer Kate Marshall.

Then there is the race to replace Catherine Cortez Masto as Attorney General. Miller, son of former governor Bob Miller, is the Democrat in that race. Adam Laxalt, grandson of former governor Paul Laxalt, is the Republican.

In Carson City’s Assembly District 40, Republican primary victor P.K. O’Neill will meet Dave Cook, a Democrat. Cook is a member of the State Board of Education and made it clear when he filed his issue is education reform and funding — including giving every pupil from kindergarten through grade five an electronic tablet.

O’Neill has a lengthy history in law enforcement as well as community service. On the subject of education, he said it’s vital to protect Western Nevada College and properly fund the community college system. He also expressed strong opposition to the ballot question that would impose a margin tax on business.

Independent American John Wagner is also in that race.

In the race to become Nevada’s new controller, Democrat Andrew Martin will face Republican Ron Knecht, who collected a majority of primary ballots despite having two GOP opponents. Tom Jones is the Independent American in the race.

Outgoing Controller Kim Wallin, a Democrat, faces Republican Dan Schwartz and Independent American Kress Cave in the treasurer’s contest.

Statewide primary turnout was just shy of 20 percent, largely because just 15.8 percent went to the polls in Clark County where 70 percent of voters live. Other counties, including Washoe, did significantly better. Washoe saw 23.4 percent or 50,960 vote Tuesday.

Carson City did significantly better than that, drawing 35.35 percent of the 25,095 registered, 8,877 voters in all. Douglas County was right behind with 32.76 percent or 9,268 voting. Eureka, Lander and White Pine counties all had more than 40 percent turnout but the highest rates were in Pershing and Storey counties, both above the 50 percent mark.