The stretch between summer and winter is an interesting time in the political world, especially in the year leading up to a major election cycle.
While the rest of the population is off vacationing in cooler climates, political leaders and operatives from both parties are beginning the process that will continue until just before next spring: finding suitable candidates to challenge incumbents and compete for open seats in the 2008 election.
While the search has not necessarily begun in earnest, names are being thrown around and potential candidates are receiving phone calls from suitors asking them to consider throwing their hats in the ring. For some, the choice will be easy: it’s not as hard to convince someone to run for an open seat (no incumbent) then it is to persuade them to take on an entrenched and well-funded opponent.
Ever since the seat was formed in the re-districting of 2001, the first race that is always talked about is Congressional District 3 (CD3). Since its creation, it has been represented by Jon Porter, and he has defeated some very good opponents, including Tessa Hafen, who ran a spirited and challenging effort in 2006, but fell short at the end.
This year no major names have surfaced yet. One person, Dr. Larry Lerner, husband of Rep. Shelley Berkley, expressed early interest, but withdrew his name last month. Clark County Prosecutor Robert Daskas has also been approached. He has yet to make a decision on whether to run.
This race has also moved up on the radar screen of U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, who sees Porter as a possible opponent when he comes up for re-election in 2010. Reid is one of the best political players in the business, and he has been successful in the past at knocking out potential rivals before they even got a chance to run. Defeating Porter will be high on his to-do list.
Another race that will receive much attention is in State Senate 7, the seat currently held by Republican Sen. Joe Heck. Again, the margins between the parties are slim – less than 3,000 votes. Democrats also feel that because they were able to defeat Republican Sandra Tiffany in 2006, there’s a chance that history could repeat itself here.
Why is this race so important? The GOP’s advantage in the State Senate is only 1 vote, so this race could essentially be fought for control of the state’s upper house. There are few other Senate races up next year, including Bob Beers’ seat in District 8, where the Republican advantage is only 2,500 votes.
Most observers, however, think Beers’ conservative base in that district make him much stronger than the numbers would appear. Heck is also strong, and will undoubtedly beat his opponent in fundraising. Four years ago, he also had union support when he ran against and beat conservative stalwart Ann O’Connell. While he may lose some of those endorsements to a good Democrat, he had a strong voting record with key unions like the police and firefighters, and they have a history of supporting those who voted for their causes.
When the dog-days of summer come to an end, there will definitely be more names flying around and more trial balloons being floated.