Richard Ziser claimed victory Tuesday in
Nevada's Republican primary for the U.S. Senate and focused his
attention on upsetting incumbent Democrat Harry Reid in November.
Ziser, who raised $1 for every $18 in Reid's hefty $7.8 million
campaign fund, was undaunted by the disparity and said he was
banking on his conservatism and calls for fiscal restraint to
unseat Reid, the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate.
With 36 percent of precincts reporting, Ziser had 34 percent of
the vote and led his closest rival - who has never called Nevada
home - by a nearly 2-1 margin.
Bob Brown, a Georgia rancher who lists a home address in Boynton
Beach, Fla., was running second with 17 percent of the vote in the
field of six GOP candidates.
Kenneth Wegner was next with 16 percent; Cherie Tilley, 9
percent; Royle Melton, 9 percent; and Carlo Poliak, 2 percent.
Ziser is the former chairman of the Coalition for the Protection
of Marriage, which successfully backed an initiative to prohibit
the state from recognizing gay marriages. Voters overwhelming
approved the constitutional amendment in 2000 and 2002.
Given that exposure, Ziser's victory was not surprising, said
David Damore, a political science professor at the University of
Nevada, Las Vegas.
"He had the most name recognition. His name was in the paper
for two years," Damore said. "After (the gay marriage
initiative), he knew how to play politics in the sense of getting
his name out there, lining up supporters."
Damore said it will be an uphill battle to unseat Reid. It will
be difficult for Ziser to say "he can do more for Nevada than
Reid was not taking any chances.
"I'm certainly not taking anything for granted in this
election," Reid said by telephone from Washington, D.C.
"I hope we can talk about the issues that are important to the
people of Nevada."
Reid, 64, defeated Republican John Ensign in 1998 by only 428
votes after a lengthy recount. Ensign won Nevada's other Senate
seat two years later, and Reid began amassing funds to avoid
another squeaker in 2004.
Ziser said Reid's slim victory shows he is vulnerable.
Other candidates on the November ballot include Libertarian
Thomas Hurst, Independent American David Schumann, and Natural Law
candidate Gary Marinch.