Dem Susie Lee defeats Danny Tarkanian to retain Nevada House seat

Dem Susie Lee defeats Danny Tarkanian to retain Nevada House seat

Nevada’s 3rd District will remain in Democratic hands. 

Democrat Susie Lee on Tuesday defeated perennial Republican candidate Danny Tarkanian in the race to represent the southern-most region of the Silver State. 

The seat is currently held by a Democrat, Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenElection Countdown: Florida fight ends with Scott, DeSantis wins | Dems see Sunbelt in play for 2020 | Trump to campaign in Mississippi ahead of runoff | GOP wipeout in Orange County | Ortiz Jones concedes in Texas House race Dem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — House, Senate leaders named as Pelosi lobbies for support to be Speaker MORE, who planned to step down in her bid to take on GOP Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerElection Countdown: Florida fight ends with Scott, DeSantis wins | Dems see Sunbelt in play for 2020 | Trump to campaign in Mississippi ahead of runoff | GOP wipeout in Orange County | Ortiz Jones concedes in Texas House race Dem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 Cortez Masto named Dem Senate campaign chairwoman MORE (Nev).

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Lee, an education and homeless advocate, had run two years ago in Nevada’s sprawling 4th District north of Las Vegas, but placed a distant third in a primary contest won by current Rep. Ruben KihuenRuben Jesus KihuenDem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 Pence aide defends Meadows after ethics panel reprimand: He ‘had my back’ Ethics panel reprimands Freedom Caucus chairman over handling of harassment allegations MORE (D), who secured a key endorsement from then-Sen. Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems wonder if Sherrod Brown could be their magic man Nevada New Members 2019 Meet the lawyer Democrats call when it's recount time MORE (D-Nev.). 

Democratic powerbrokers felt Lee was a better fit for the 3rd District, which is more moderate and less ethnically diverse than the 4th. She hauled in $4.6 million for the cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, giving her a sharp advantage over Tarkanian, who raised $2.0 million. Outside groups spent lavishly in the perennial swing district, making it the most expensive race in the state. 

In the “Year of the Woman,” Lee was part of the historic wave of female candidates — most of them Democrats — to run for Congress, and her campaign message focused intently on promises to fight for economic and health care protections for women and working class families. She stuck with a centrist message, rejecting proposals from more liberal Democrats for a Medicare-for-all health system and the elimination of U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement. 

Immigration was also a leading issue in the campaign. Tarkanian, a strong supporter of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: WHCA picking non-comedian for headliner a 'good first step' Five takeaways from Mississippi's Senate debate Watergate’s John Dean: Nixon would tell Trump 'he's going too far' MORE, had adopted the tough-enforcement positions pushed by the president — a sharp contrast to Lee’s message of fighting for “Dreamers” and opposing the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border. The distinction may have helped her in a district where 14 percent of eligible voters are Hispanic. 

Tarkanian, the son of former University of Nevada—Las Vegas basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, is also no stranger to political races. Aside from runs for several state offices, he’s sought the Senate once (2010), and the House in two previous cycles (2012 and 2016). He’s lost each time. 

Tarkanian had initially sought to challenge Heller in the GOP primary this year. He abandoned the bid in March after Republican leaders, including Trump, nudged him into the House race. 

Former President Obama won the district in both 2008 and 2012, but Trump shifted the dynamic two years ago, edging out former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWatergate’s John Dean: Nixon would tell Trump 'he's going too far' Senate Homeland Security chairman requests briefing on Ivanka Trump emails House GOP to hold hearing into DOJ’s probe of Clinton Foundation MORE, the Democratic nominee, by a point.