Nevada Assembly may be shifting toward female majority

CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) Last year at the opening of the Nevada Legislature, Democrats were taking a victory of lap of sorts. Of the 42 seats in Nevada's Assembly, Democrats held 27 seats, Republicans 15--almost a super majority.

The chamber is seen as a sea of red and blue, which can be important. But when the 2018 November election is complete, the chamber may also be looked upon as pink and blue, as in the women-to-men ratio.

Nevada has the opportunity to make state and U.S history by electing a majority of women to a state house.

“I think Nevada has a really good chance of making history here by electing a female majority legislature. And there are a couple of different ways that could potentially happen,” says Teresa Benitez-Thompson, who represents Assembly District 27 in the Nevada Assembly.

Last June Nevada voters elected a record number of women to office in the primaries. Currently in the state legislature 38% of the seats are occupied by women. That's the third highest in the country.

The Silver State is tied with Colorado, which historically is not unusual when it comes to women and their place in the political arena.

“And Nevada stands out as one of the first three states to acknowledge the women's right to vote. We did that 1916 a full four years before the nation did it. On the heels of Colorado and Wyoming doing it. We all did it at about the same time,” says Political Science Professor Fred Lokken with Truckee Meadows Community College.

If the most optimistic forecast comes to pass, 57% of the members in Nevada's Assembly will be women. Lokken says that may mean agenda items that have been given short shrift may end up front and center.

“I believe the minimum wage I think gets a bump in the legislature. And probably environmental issues. Those are the areas I think women would approach the issues differently,” says Lokken.

While women in Nevada have occupied at one time or another a constitutional office or two in our state, the governor's office has always been elusive.

Having a majority of women in the house in 2019, and with continued legislative participation by women in the years to come, Benitez-Thompson says that trend will surely not stand.

”I would love to see one of them potentially be a woman filling the job of governor in my lifetime,” she says.

While the Assembly could be a majority of women, Nevada's Senate has seven women out of 21 total members. But that too could change with the elections.

Aaron Ford is running for Attorney General, Tick Segerbloom the Clark County Commission. If both those men win, the Clark County Commission will appoint replacements.

Two women would push the percentage of females in the Nevada Senate to 42%.