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 RosenLawmakers introduce legislation to improve cyber workforce funding Dem lawmakers accuse DHS, HHS of giving them misleading information on family separations This week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report MORE, who planned to step down in her bid to take on GOP Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (Nev).

ADVERTISEMENT

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 KihuenMembers spar over sexual harassment training deadline Nevada Dem sanctioned for sexual misconduct announces city council bid Dem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 MORE (D), who secured a key endorsement from then-Sen. Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidLobbying World Mitch McConnell is not invincible Seven big decisions facing Biden in 2020 primary 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 TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure 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 ClintonThe Memo: Trump faces steep climb to reelection What the Mueller report tells us about Putin, Russia and Trump's election Steve Bullock puts Citizens United decision at center of presidential push MORE, the Democratic nominee, by a point.