Supermajorities look out of reach for legislative Democrats

State Sen. Heidi Gansert
Nevada State Sen. Heidi Gansert on the first day of the 31st Special Session of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Hopes of a second “blue wave” bringing Democrats a supermajority within the Nevada State Legislature have dwindled based on the unofficial results available Wednesday morning.

Democrats currently hold a 13-8 majority in the Nevada State Senate. They needed to hold onto those existing seats and flip one Republican seat in order to secure a supermajority. Their two targeted flips appear to have come up short, and two other Democrats are narrowly trailing in their competitive districts.

Meanwhile, Republicans appear to have a shot at breaking the Democratic supermajority within the Nevada State Assembly. Democrats currently have a 29-13 supermajority and need 28 seats to maintain it. They are trailing in three of four competitive races.

A supermajority in both chambers would have allowed Nevada Democrats to raise taxes without bipartisan support, a contentious issue that has reared its head during the 2019 regular session and this year’s dual special sessions.

Nevada has not finished counting all mail ballots, and the state has several days to continue receiving and accepting ballots postmarked by Election Day. Therefore, all these numbers are subject to change. But here’s a look at where the competitive races currently stand.

State Senate

In Senate District 6, Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro was down by less than 1 percent of votes — a difference of 553 votes. Cannizzaro won her district in 2016 by 1,036 votes. She is being challenged this year by Republican April Becker, a real estate attorney.

Republican Carrie Buck narrowly led Democrat Kristee Watson by less than 2 percent of votes for the open Senate District 5 seat. The difference is less than 1,000 votes. Libertarian Tim Hagan secured 2.7 percent of votes. Buck has run for this assembly seat before. In 2016, she challenged Democratic incumbent Joyce Woodhouse and lost by fewer than 500 votes. Woodhouse was term limited and could not run this year. Buck is president of The Pinecrest Foundation, a network of charter schools. Watson works for Spread The Word, a literacy nonprofit.

Republican state Sens. Heidi Gansert and Scott Hammond appear to have successfully fended off challenges from Democratic challengers Wendy Jauregui-Jackins and Liz Becker, respectively. Gansert in Northern Nevada’s Senate District 15 led 52 percent to 48 percent. Hammond in Southern Nevada’s Senate District 18 led 57 percent to 43 percent.

Becker on social media Wednesday afternoon acknowledged the reported results: “While it does not appear that we will be successful in this bid, these last 17 months have truly been a joy and I look forward to continuing to serve this community in other capacities.”

She continued, “More to come when the vote is finalized. For now, stay calm and trust the process.”

State Assembly

Democratic Assemblymembers Connie Munk, Skip Daly and Shea Backus are behind Republican challengers Richard McArthur, Jill Dickman and Andy Matthews, respectively.

Munk in Assembly District 4 is behind by more than 6 points, or 2,385 votes. McArthur has won the seat three times before — in 2008, 2012 and 2016 — only to be unseated in subsequent elections. Munk beat McArthur by just 120 votes in 2018.

Daly in Assembly District 31 was down 48 percent to 52 percent. His opponent, Dickman previously held the seat in 2014.

Coincidentally, Backus in Assembly District 37 was also down 48 percent 52 percent. Backus won that seat in 2018 by just 135 votes.

Democratic Assemblywoman Lesley Cohen narrowly leads over Republican Steven Delisle in District 29. Their difference is less than 1 percent — just 214 votes.

Complete early results can be viewed online at Silver State Election.

April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American 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 the 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 currently serves on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists Las Vegas pro chapter. 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 with her husband, two children and three mutts.