Democrats rev up fundraising in fight to control Nevada Legislature

Democrats are revving up their fundraising efforts as they try to regain control of the Nevada Legislature during a presidential-year election cycle that’s expected to be more favorable for the party than the last one.

After taking a beating during the 2014 elections and landing in the minority in the Assembly and Senate, the Assembly Democratic Caucus raised $346,768 in 2015, almost 15 times as much as the Assembly Republican Caucus’ $23,500 haul, according to campaign finance reports filed last week.

The Senate Democratic Caucus reported raising $270,273, which was three times as much as the $84,000 that Senate Republicans raised.

“It certainly was comforting to see that our efforts were paying off,” said Senate Democratic leader Aaron Ford, who added that the numbers show donor confidence in Democrats’ prospects but also affirms their platform. “Expanding and protecting the middle class is the message that resonates.”

The Nevada State Democratic Party also showed strong numbers relative to the Nevada Republican Party. Democrats reported raising $874,340 in 2015, while the state GOP raised $442,242.

Republican Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson said his caucus’s relatively low fundraising numbers were expected, in part because Assembly Republicans and their donors are ideologically divided, and because Republicans who retired or lost their races didn’t roll their leftover campaign money into the caucus account, as many legislative Democrats did.

Anderson said he doesn’t think the caucus’s fundraising report says anything about how competitive Republicans will be in their races. He said he expects national and local groups to make good on contribution pledges to Republicans as the elections draw nearer.

Other fundraising highlights from key legislative races:

Democratic state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse reported raising $134,677 last year as she seeks to retain her seat in her Henderson-area swing district. The retired educator is facing a challenge in District 5 from Republican charter school principal Carrie Buck, who reported raising $79,200 in 2015.

Republican Assemblyman and state Senate hopeful Erv Nelson raised $121,200 last year — more than fellow Assembly member and primary opponent Victoria Seaman, who collected $88,859. Nelson has the endorsement of Senate Republican leaders in his bid to take the Las Vegas-area District 6 seat held by Republican Sen. Mark Lipparelli, who said he won’t run for re-election.

The winner of the Republican primary for Lipparelli’s seat is likely to face Democratic political newcomer Nicole Cannizzaro, a Clark County deputy district attorney who raised $101,014 last year.

Republican former lawmaker Heidi Gansert raised $161,862 last year as she tries to win the Washoe County Senate District 15 seat held by Republican Greg Brower, who won’t seek re-election. Gansert, who’s endorsed by Senate leaders, is facing a primary challenge from businessman Eugene Hoover, who reported raising $6,851 last year.

Brothel owner Dennis Hof said he’ll run for Brower’s seat as a Libertarian, but the announcement came in calendar year 2016 and Hof didn’t file fundraising reports for 2015. The Senate Democratic Caucus has yet to field a candidate for the race, although Ford says he expects to announce a contender in coming weeks.

Democratic former Assemblyman Jason Frierson, who narrowly lost his Las Vegas-area District 8 seat in a 2014 upset to Republican newcomer John Moore, raised $138,551 for his comeback bid. Updated numbers on Moore’s fundraising were not posted on the Nevada secretary of state’s website by the campaign reporting deadline.

Democrat Chris Brooks, who’s hoping to unseat freshman Republican Assemblywoman Shelly Shelton in Democratic-leaning District 8 in Las Vegas, raised $44,920 last year. Shelton reported raising $39,178.


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