By SCOTT SONNER
RENO, Nev. (AP) — Incumbent Democrats completed a sweep Friday of three key swing seats in the western battleground state of Nevada that Republicans had targeted in their bid to take control of the U.S. House.
Reps. Dina Titus, Steven Horsford and Susie Lee all held off GOP challengers in close congressional races that attracted tens of millions of dollars in outside spending to Las Vegas and surrounding parts of southern Nevada.
The vote count took several days partly because of the mail voting system created by Nevada’s Legislature in 2020 requiring counties to accept ballots postmarked by Election Day if they arrive up to four days later.
Horsford said Friday it had “become one of the most consequential elections in our lifetime.”
But despite deep divisions in the electorate and pre-election predictions that potentially big change was on the horizon, there will be no new faces in Nevada’s House delegation next year.
The lone Republican House member from Nevada, six-term Rep. Mark Amodei, retained his seat by defeating Elizabeth Mercedes Krause in rural northern Nevada’s 2nd District where no Democrat has ever won.
Amodei, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, has carried at least 58% of the vote since he won his first full term in a special election in 2011. His sprawling district includes Reno, Sparks and Carson City, as well as rural areas from south of Lake Tahoe to the Utah line.
Titus, who won re-election to a seventh term, held off a challenge from Republican Mark Robertson in her party’s traditional stronghold of Las Vegas where the GOP had hoped redistricting would help it win the 1st District seat for the first time since 1998.
The dean of Nevada’s congressional delegation, who faced a rare primary challenge from a Bernie Sanders backer, Titus had complained that Democratic strategists made her vulnerable for the first time in years by sacrificing some traditional turf in exchange for redistricting gains in neighboring swing districts.
But she became convinced by Thursday night she had survived the challenge and issued a statement thanking her supporters.
“Voters sent a message loud and clear: They want someone in their corner who never backs down from a fight,” Titus said.
Robertson, a retired Army colonel and business owner, conceded the race Friday and made it clear he wouldn’t allege voter fraud like former President Donald Trump and others did in the aftermath of the 2020 election.
“This is how Representative Democracy works,” Robertson said in a written statement. “Though we came close, in the end, we were not able to overcome the ten-point registration advantage the Democrats have in this district.”
The other two seats have bounced between parties over the past decade and were both near the top of the GOP’s priority list this midterm election.
Horsford won a fourth term, turning back Republican Samuel Peters in the 4th District that stretches from the edges of Las Vegas through suburbs and rural areas to the Utah border.
He became the first Black person to represent Nevada in Congress when he was first elected to the House in 2012. He lost in 2014 but now has won three in a row.
Peters, a war veteran, lost the GOP congressional primary in 2020. Among Nevada’s GOP congressional candidates, he was the one who aligned himself most closely with Trump.
Lee emphasized her staunch support for abortion rights to earn a third term by defeating Republican April Becker in southern Nevada’s 3rd District, which stretches to the Arizona state line.
She said voters “chose unity and respect over division and extremism.”
Becker, a Las Vegas attorney, narrowly lost her bid two years ago to unseat the state Senate leader. She was backed by groups that oppose abortion but emphasized abortion is legal in Nevada through 24 weeks under a voter-approved measure.
Lee told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that she believed many of Nevada’s independent voters, roughly a third of the electorate, supported her.
“Those independents seriously are swing voters,” she said. “A lot of people predicted they would swing right. But a lot of them are young … and reproductive choice was a big driver, and they were worried about inflation but they recognized that one party was trying to deliver results.”
Lee acknowledged voters in Nevada, like the rest of the country, were concerned about inflation, but argued that Democrats were the only ones addressing it.
Republicans “used it as a talking point and had no ideas how to deal with it,” she told AP.
“Ask any Republican in Congress what they would do, and their only suggestion was to lower corporate taxes and taxes on the wealthy … and to cut Social Security and Medicare,” Lee said. “We made investments in the economy with the stimulus bill and infrastructure and made the largest investment in climate change in history.”
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo on Friday defeated incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak. In Nevada’s critical U.S. Senate race, Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto was slightly trailing challenger Adam Laxalt.
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