Nevada voters faced primary election choices Tuesday to narrow the field in the race to be the state's next governor, fill an open congressional seat and name a state treasurer in a contest that might be won by a dead candidate.
Voters also were casting ballots for candidates for a U.S.
Senate seat, two other House races and several statewide elective
Rep. Jim Gibbons gave up his safe seat in Congress to seek the
Republican nomination for governor in a bid to succeed Gov. Kenny
Guinn. The popular two-term Republican is leaving the governor's
mansion because of the state's limit on how long officeholders can
Gibbons faces a party challenge from an anti-tax advocate, state
Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, and Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt. Polls
conducted last week showed Beers gaining on Gibbons, the early
favorite, and Hunt trailing in a race in which Guinn declined to
endorse a successor.
In the Democratic primary, polls showed state Senate Minority
Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, ahead of Jim Gibson, mayor of
Henderson. While Gibson outspent Titus, she managed to portray him
as a conservative with pro-business ties.
The campaign for governor was marked by negative ads and
personal attacks in both the Republican and Democratic races, and
the GOP candidacy of former porn star Melody Damayo, who performed
under the name Mimi Miyagi.
Election-eve polling showed former state Assemblywoman Dawn
Gibbons, R-Reno, running behind two other Republicans seeking the
U.S. House seat that her husband is vacating after five terms to
run for governor. The GOP primary battle for the 2nd Congressional
District was seen as a toss-up between anti-tax conservative
Sharron Angle and Secretary of State Dean Heller.
Former state Controller Kathy Augustine died July 11, and
election officials didn't have enough time to reprint ballots that
listed her as one of three Republican candidates for state
treasurer. If she wins the GOP nomination, it would be the first
time that a dead person has won a primary for a statewide office in
Because of the impeached controller's name recognition, state
GOP leaders planned a meeting Saturday to choose another nominee in
the event she defeats Mark DeStefano and Joseph Pitts.
U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., faced an easy primary fight
against a little-known contender, Ed "Fast Eddie" Hamilton as he
heads toward November when he is expected to face Jack Carter, son
of former President Jimmy Carter.
In Nevada's 1st Congressional District, incumbent Democratic
Rep. Shelley Berkley is the odds-on favorite in her bid for a fifth
two-year term against a political unknown. The Republican primary
includes Russ Mickelson, a GOP activist who ran unsuccessfully for
Congress two years ago.
In the 3rd Congressional District, incumbent Rep. John Porter,
R-Nev., got a free ride in the primary but has been challenged by
seven Democratic and splinter-party hopefuls - including Democrat
Tessa Hafen, former top aide to U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry
In a state in which registered voters are virtually split
between Democrats and Republicans, voters also were deciding
primary contests for lieutenant governor, secretary of state,
Nevada Supreme Court and various state Senate and Assembly seats.
Republicans swept all six statewide constitutional offices in
2002, and President Bush carried Nevada for the second time in
Early voter turnout was strong. In the Las Vegas area, where
two-thirds of the state's active voters live, 15 percent had cast
early or absentee ballots by the time early voting ended Friday.
Election officials predicted overall turnout of 25 percent to 30
percent for the first Nevada primary to be held in August. Voting
was moved from its traditional Tuesday date after Labor Day to give
election officials more time to prepare for the general election.