Horsford, Lee win open U.S. House seats

going home
Steven Horsford celebrates his return to Congress. Photo: Michael Lyle

Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday’s election, and the new majority will include three Democrats from Nevada.

In what was considered the most competitive of Nevada’s House races, Susie Lee defeated Republican perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian in the 3rd congressional district. It was Tarkanian’s second consecutive loss in the district.

Lee’s victory is the first time since CD3 was created following the 2000 census that a Democrat has won the seat in a midterm election.

In the 4th congressional district contest pitting two former congressmen against each other in a rematch of the 2014 election, Democrat Steven Horsford defeated Republican Cresent Hardy

Both seats are already held by Democrats, Jacky Rosen in CD3, who ran for Senate, and Ruben Kihuen in CD4, who did not seek reelection. Facing the likelihood of House losses nationwide, Republicans hoped that one or both of the seats might offset defeats elsewhere. 

But unlike four years ago, this cycle’s heavy voter turnout proved too much for the GOP contenders.

While the outcome is a significant victory for Democrats throughout the country, it deals a major blow to Republicans who will lose their majority in lower chamber, leaving Trump vulnerable to newly empowered Democratic investigations into his tax returns, numerous corruption allegations, and further probes into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.

In brief remarks to supporters, Lee said, “Tonight we restored hope that tomorrow will be better than today.”

The 3rd Congressional District has been contentious with Republican Danny Tarkanian threatening to sue Lee for “publishing multiple defamatory statements” on social media and elsewhere related to his role in setting up telemarketing companies, which were later convicted of fraud.

“I feel so bad I let you guys down,” Tarkanian said in remarks to a room that had quickly emptied out after Clark County results came in, calling his race a “great campaign.”

Tarkanian blamed his loss on Lee’s superior campaign spending and “lies” her campaign ran in various ads which referred to him as a “con man.” 

“We love you Danny,” yelled the remaining crowd as Tarkanian gave his speech.

Tarkanian then handed over to his wife, Amy, who took the concept of a concession speech to a whole new level. Voters were to blame for her husband’s loss, Tarkanian said, because they voted a “liar” into office, and so now can’t complain about the loss because “it’s your fault.”

She called Lee’s campaign tactics “disgusting” adding that politicians should “knock this garbage off” receiving open applause from the room.

The “blue wave” did arrive in Nevada, and Republicans in the state may need to examine what went wrong in their campaigns after a long night punctuated with Democratic victories. But little regret was voiced over the tenor and rhetoric of the Tarkanian campaign, as Amy Tarkanian, a former state party chair who is openly considering making a bid of her own for elected office, promised that their loyalty to President Donald Trump would bring them a bright future.

“I honestly believe God has a plan for us,” Amy said. Danny “stood firm when everyone else at the top of the ticket last election distanced themselves from … candidate Trump.”

“This man was loyal to him. We were loyal,” Amy said.

Lee and Tarkanian competed to fill the seat Rosen left to run for Senate, which she won Tuesday night. The CD3 is almost always viewed as competitive by both parties, as the district has almost equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans.

Tarkanian has a long history of unsuccessfully seeking elected office in Nevada. This cycle, he originally mounted a primary challenge against Republican Sen. Dean Heller — or “DC Dean” as the Tarkanian campaign referred to Heller at the time until President Donald Trump infamously directed him to run for Rosen’s seat instead via Twitter in March.

Beyond just taking Trump’s campaign orders, Tarkanian has largely modeled himself after Trump, echoing the president’s harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric. Earlier in the campaign, Tarkanian was even listed as one of 46 administrators and moderators for a racist and conspiracy-obsessed Facebook group before being removed after questions were raised about his involvement. Lee, the founder of several local nonprofit groups, significantly outraised Tarkanian, having raised about $3 million more in campaign funds.

In his concession remarks Tuesday, Tarkanian suggested he may be done.

“This is probably the last time I’ll speak with you guys at a public event,” he said.

Horsford returns to Congress

After defeating a crowded field of Democrats in the primary, Horsford was granted a chance to win back the congressional seat he lost four years ago to Hardy.

Despite the being a Democratic-leaning district, Republicans saw it a possible pickup opportunity, as large parts of the district include rural central Nevada as well as urban Las Vegas and North Las Vegas. Horsford largely outraised and outspent Hardy throughout the campaign.

Horsford was the first African-American to represent Nevada in Congress. In 2014, a year when Democrats were crushed in Nevada, Horsford was defeated by Hardy after serving just one term. Prominent Democratic figures have been sent to campaign on Horsford’s behalf, including former President Barack Obama and rumored 2020 hopeful Sen. Cory Booker. Hardy received support from Republicans, with the White House sending Vice President Pence to campaign for Hardy in an attempt to energize the Republican base.

In the state’s other two House races, incumbents Rep. Dina Titus and Rep. Mark Amodei each easily won their races. In CD1, which includes Las Vegas and the Strip, Titus defeated Republican Joyce Bentley. In the heavily GOP 2rd congressional district, which includes Reno and most of rural Nevada, Amodei defeated Democrat Clint Koble.

Jeniffer Solis
Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.
April Corbin
Reporter | April Corbin is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. Most recently she covered local government for Las Vegas Sun. She has also been a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of its student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. April serves as treasurer of the Society of Professional Journalists Las Vegas pro chapter and is an at-large member of the Asian American Journalists Association. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise. She lives with her boyfriend, his toddler, three mutts and five chickens. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, exploring Nevada and defending selfies.
Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.
Dana Gentry
Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana is the mother of four adult children, three cats, three dogs and a cockatoo.

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