Former Nevada Democratic Assemblywoman and candidate for lieutenant governor Lucy Flores announced Wednesday that she’s running for Congress.
Flores, whose campaigns have highlighted her rise from troubled teen to lawyer and lawmaker, is seeking the 4th Congressional District seat held by first-term Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy.
The district encompasses urban North Las Vegas and a large swath of rural, central Nevada. It includes much of the Assembly district that Flores previously represented.
“I feel very connected to the community, and I’m very deeply committed to public service,” she said. “I really want to be a part of creating opportunities for folks.”
Flores is the second Democrat to make a bid for the seat in 2016. Nevada state Sen. Ruben Kihuen announced his campaign last month.
“Our campaign is lining up plenty of support, both financial and endorsements,” Kihuen said, “but right now I’m focused on my legislative job.”
The announcement by Flores sets up a primary battle between two young Hispanic Democrats considered rising stars in their party.
The seat previously was held by Democrat Steven Horsford, who lost to underdog Hardy in November. Horsford announced in March that he wouldn’t try to reclaim the post.
The district leans Democratic and is expected to be an easier win for the party during a presidential year than it was during the 2014 midterms.
Representatives from Hardy’s office said the congressman is focused on creating business-friendly policies and addressing Nevada’s transportation needs.
“Congressman Hardy’s focus is not on politics — it’s on serving his constituents by working issues they’ve told him are important,” Hardy spokesman Scott Knuteson said.
Flores left her Assembly seat after serving two terms to run for lieutenant governor in the last election cycle.
Her campaign highlighted her hardscrabble past and journey from gang member to attorney and elected official. She lost the race to Republican Mark Hutchison, who was endorsed by Gov. Brian Sandoval and garnered nearly 60 percent of the vote.
In her congressional bid, she said she’ll offer a sharp contrast to Hardy’s views on public lands, health care reform and the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear repository. She said she’s also ready for a Democratic primary and plans to compare her legislative record to her opponent’s.
“I’ve worked hard to demonstrate that this isn’t just about holding some office, but actually accomplishing things,” she said.