Argentum Campaigner: November 7

 In Government Affairs

The Argentum Campaigner: November 7, 2017

Campaign season is now in full swing as we are roughly one year away from the 2018 election. With that said, we are excited to release the fourth issue of the Argentum Campaigner which is a newsletter dedicated to covering everything about Nevada politics. It is our sincere hope that this newsletter will keep you informed about all of the political happenings from now until the 2018 election.

As it stands, we have 120 days left until the opening of the filing period for candidates in the 2018 election, 219 days until the primary election, and 364 days until the general. Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of movement in state and local politics, as we rapidly approach the March candidate filing period. We’ve also seen a change in leadership in the Assembly Republican caucus, two major gubernatorial announcements, a major development in the recall attempt against Senator Joyce Woodhouse, and the start of a competitive race for Attorney General.

This week we are going to focus on the following:

  • Topline polling data from the extremely competitive Governor’s race in Virginia and a continued decline in President Trump’s approval numbers.
  • A look into the Democratic primary for Governor between Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani, and how each candidate stands up against the anointed GOP nominee Adam Laxalt.
  • A look into the fundraising totals for Nevada’s Congressional and Senate races.
  • A deep dive into the status of the recall attempt against Joyce Woodhouse (D).

As issues or questions arise during the remainder of the campaign season, please let us know. We’re here to help! At Argentum Partners, we pride ourselves on providing the best government affairs, public relations, public affairs, crisis communications, advocacy, grassroots outreach, campaigning, and coalition building services available. Therefore, it is our mission to be fully engaged in the events that happen throughout the state.

If you have any questions or ideas about what we should cover, please email

November 7: Toplines & Headlines

Las Vegas Review Journal

As the 2018 midterms rapidly approach, things are really starting to heat up both nationally and in the Silver State. Last week, Adam Laxalt (R) made his formal announcement for Governor, and has since been touring all of Nevada’s seventeen counties. Thus far, this race for Governor is shaping up to be arguably the biggest contest in the upcoming elections, as it has consumed much of the media coverage thus far. Even though the Governor’s race has sucked most of the oxygen out of the room, here are some other things that have happened over the past few weeks:

  • Former Assemblyman and Deputy Attorney General Wes Duncan (R) has announced that he is running form Attorney General. He will now face off against Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, in what will be an extremely competitive race.
  • Assemblyman Justin Watkins has announced that will not be seeking reelection to the AD 35 seat in 2018. Former Assemblyman James Healy (D) will be the Democratic frontrunner for the seat this cycle.
  • Las Vegas native Jay Craddock has decided to challenge James Ohrenschall in the Senate District 21 primary. Jay is the son of Bob Craddock, who served for eight terms in the Assembly. So far, it appears that the Senate Democratic Caucus is reluctant to support Ohrenschall at the moment.

Meanwhile, here are some toplines from around the country:

Trump’s Approval Numbers – Despite a slight boost in the last month, President Trump’s approval rating has leveled off to about 37-38% percent, which is the lowest since his inauguration. Last week, Gallup released its latest poll of 1,500 adults showing the President with an approval rating of 37% and a disapproval rating of 57% (± 3%). This Gallup poll is in stark contrast with a Rasmussen poll showing Trump’s approvals at 43% and disapprovals at 55%. Traditionally, Rasmussen’s automated IVR polls have been criticized for skewing in the favor of Republican candidates, so these results are not very surprising. However using their meta-analysis of polls conducted so far, the folks over at FiveThirtyEight have pegged the President’s approvals at 37.8%, which seems to be a much more accurate barometer of American public opinion at the moment. Much of the president’s favorables are dependent on the outcome of tax reform efforts in Congress, which Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has maintained will pass the House before Thanksgiving.

Virginia Governor’s Race – Today marks a huge day in Virginia as the race for Governor will conclude this evening. As we rapidly approach the close of the polls, things seem to be tightening up in the race. Virtually all polls conducted over the past week show Northam with a lead over Gillespie (Suffolk +4, Gravis +5, Trafalgar Group +1 , and NY TImes/Siena +3). However, it should be noted that a Roanoke College poll from last Friday shows the race dead even, and The Polling Company shows Gillespie with a 3 point lead. For most of this race, polling data has seemed to suggest that Northam will pull off the victory tomorrow night. Assuming that everything holds steady and Democratic turnout is not abysmally low, this could be a major win for Democrats going into the 2018 contests.

A look into the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

Several weeks ago, the 2018 race for Governor got much more interesting when Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani (D-Las Vegas) announced her candidacy. Giunchigliani, who will be termed out of the county commission in 2019, has built up a tremendous amount of support from the progressive-left since her time in the legislature. Giunchigliani, presents the first major challenge for Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who announced his gubernatorial run several months ago.

Fundraising Edge Goes to Sisolak – It should be noted that even though the first campaign finance reports will not be published until mid-January, both candidates have been aggressively trying to secure donors and show viability upon filing their first C&E report. Thus far, Sisolak has been an absolute fundraising machine, raising over $4 million with relative ease. Sisolak has a competitive edge over Giunchigliani insofar as he will remain as the Chairman of the Clark County Commission if he were to lose his bid for Governor. On the other hand, Giunchigliani is focused on running a grassroots campaign focused a large number of small dollar donations, which typically bodes well for more progressive style candidates.

Endorsements – Even though endorsements don’t really make or break any particular race, they are particularly useful in helping to garner early financial support and credibility for a candidate. So far, Sisolak has been successful in securing some major endorsements:

  • Former U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D)
  • Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas)
  • Laborers International Union Local 872
Despite only being in the race for a couple of weeks now, Giunchigliani has managed to secure some prominent endorsement of her own:
  • Senator Tick Segerblom (D-Las Vegas)
  • Senator David Parks (D-Las Vegas)
  • Senator Julia Ratti (D-Sparks)

How does each candidate measure up to Laxalt – Being that Attorney General Adam Laxalt continues to run a campaign that is focused on “red meat” conservative issues such as repealing the commerce tax, protecting the second amendment, and opposing sanctuary cities in Nevada; he is marginalizing his support base in the state. While these issue positions play tremendously well in a low-turnout Republican primary, they could become troublesome in general election. So far, Laxalt is positioning himself extremely well in the rurals, but did not perform very well in Clark or Washoe counties in the 2014 election.

Historically (although not always), moderate candidates have a better shot at winning Nevada’s governorship over those who are more politically polarizing. Assuming that turnout is not as low as it was in 2014, Sisolak would seem to be the candidate who is best positioned to attract non-partisan and swing voters from throughout the state.

The issue is that a good chunk of the likely voters in the 2018 Democratic primary know and love Chris G. because she’s been a progressive champion in Nevada for decades.  Sisolak, while incredibly effective on the Clark County Commission, has been forced to take some incredibly difficult policy policy positions for the Democratic base. One of the major issues he will be hit on during the primary will be his support of the stadium deal to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, which was incredibly unpopular in Washoe County. Overall, this will be a fascinating primary fight and it really is too early to call which candidate will come out on top.

Congressional and Senate Candidates Rack up Campaign Dollars

Being that we are going into a midterm election, Nevada’s congressional races will be extremely competitive as Republicans eye to flip two seats this cycle. Since Nevada will have what is arguably the biggest U.S. Senate race in the country, we can expect a ton of outside money to find its way into the silver state. On October 15, all candidates for federal races were required to submit their third quarter filings for 2017. Pursuant to federal law, House and Senate candidates are prohibited from receiving monetary contributions from corporations. Therefore they must solicit contributions from individuals and PAC’s. As it stands, individual donors may only contribute up to $5,400 to one candidate in any given election ($2,700 in the primary, and $2,700 in the general).

U.S. Senate Race – During the last reporting period which lasted from July through September, Congresswoman Jacky Rosen (D) had an impressive quarter raising $1,185,000. On the other side of the aisle, Senator Dean Heller (R) raised $1,105,000 while Danny Tarkanian raised about $307,000. It should be noted that Senator Heller is significantly leading the pack in terms of fundraising. As it stands, Heller has $4,200,000 in cash on hand, while Rosen has $1,200,000, and Tarkanian has $278,000.

Congressional District 3 –  Meanwhile, in Nevada’s most competitive congressional district, Democratic frontrunner Susie Lee (who lost a race for CD-4 in 2016) raised more money than any other congressional candidate in the state, accounting for $315,178 in the third quarter. On the Republican side, Victoria Seaman raised $114,000 (of which $50,000 was a personal loan), Senator Scott Hammond raised $51,700, and Dave McKeon raised $39,695.

Even though Seaman has jumped ahead of the pack in terms of overall funds available, it is still entirely too early to see how this Republican primary will shake out. It is worth noting, that over $16 million was spent in 2016 by outside groups in this congressional district. Being that this is one of the biggest potential pickups for Republicans, we can expect something similar to happen this cycle.

Congressional District 4 –  Next to Jacky Rosen’s seat, the congressional district 4 race is perhaps the Republicans biggest opportunity for a pickup in 2018. In 2014 during the “red wave” Cresent Hardy (R) was able to win a major upset against Steven Horsford (D). Then in 2016, Ruben Kihuen (D) was able to unseat Hardy by about 4 points. Now, running for his second term, Kihuen had a very big third quarter, raising over $217,000. Meanwhile, Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony (R) raised $141,000 last quarter.
Recall Petition against Woodhouse moves Forward

Las Vegas Review Journal

Lately, the Nevada political scene has been dominated by the news of the recall petitions that have been circulated against three members of the Nevada state senate. As outlined in Article 2 Section 9 of the Nevada constitution, a recall election can be held against an incumbent if signatures from 25% of the voters who voted in the last election in that particular district sign a recall petition. So far, recall petitions have been circulated against incumbent Senators Joyce Woodhouse (D-Henderson), Patricia Farley (NP-Las Vegas), and Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas).

Signatures filed against Woodhouse – In order to force a recall election against Joyce Woodhouse, at least 15,201 valid signatures need to be collected. Two weeks ago, proponents of the recall against Woodhouse filed the petition with 17,502 signatures to the Clark County Elections Department. Upon verifying the signatures through a random sample of 5% of the total number of signatures, the Secretary of State’s office determined that 15,544 signatures were valid.

Democrats fight back – Democrats have already collected and submitted 789 signature removal documents from people who signed the petition, but who don’t support the recall that must be processed before the final certification is made. Additionally, Marc Elias who was a prominent attorney for Hillary Clinton filed a request for preliminary injunction late yesterday afternoon in district court. Meanwhile, the signatures for the recall against Farley are due this Thursday to qualify. This is a developing story, so we will be sure to keep you updated as things change.

Race for Attorney General Heats Up

Las Vegas Review Journal

Throughout the most recent legislative session, it was widely known that Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford was planning on running for Attorney General. Therefore it came as no surprise to the politicos in Carson City when Ford pushed an agenda of criminal justice reform through the confines of the legislative building. Thus far, Ford has done a great job at solidifying support among law enforcement and Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson (D), which will prevent any sort of competitive primary in June 2018.

Wes Duncan Enters the Race  The race for Attorney General just got a lot more interesting last week, when Wes Duncan formally announced plans to run for the office. Originally elected to the Assembly District 37 seat in 2012, Duncan has has quickly established himself as a rising star in the Republican party. In the 2012 race, Duncan was able to pull off an incredible upset over then-Assembly Majority Leader Marcus Conklin by 673 votes. Then in 2014, he easily won reelection during the “red wave,” capturing over 61% of the total vote. However, immediately after the election, Duncan resigned his seat to serve as the First Assistant Attorney General under Adam Laxalt (R). While Duncan does stand to benefit from many of the A.G.’s achievements since 2015 like addressing rape kit backlog and successfully taking on the EPA and the; he will also be tied to some of Laxalt’s more controversial positions concerning immigration and the enforcement of background checks on gun sales.

Criminal Justice Reform: Does it hurt or help Ford? – The question must also be asked as to whether or not Ford’s attempts to reform the criminal justice system in the legislature will aid him in a midterm contest. Many prominent Republicans have already begun to hit Ford for his support of a measure that would have allowed for convicted felons to regain the right to vote. While these sorts of issues play well to the Democratic base, they can tend to wreak havoc with traditional Republican voters. Overall, much of Ford’s success during this campaign will be dependent on the overall turnout numbers in the general election.

A Brief History of the AG’s Office  Many people like to state that Republicans will usually win statewide contests in midterm elections, but unfortunately those people are misguided in their thinking. Over the last 50 years, Nevada has elected four Republican and four Democratic Attorney Generals. Below is a list of Nevada’s Attorney Generals over this timeframe:

  • Adam Paul Laxalt – Rep. (2015 – Present)
  • Catherine Cortez Masto – Dem. (2007 – 2015)
  • George J. Chanos- Rep. (Appointed, 2006 – 2006)
  • Brian Sandoval – Rep. (2003 – 2005)
  • Frankie Sue Del Papa – Dem. (1990 – 2002)
  • Brian McKay – Rep. (1983 – 1990)
  • Richard H. Bryan – Dem. (1979 – 1982)
  • Robert List – Rep. (1971 – 1978)
  • Harvey Dickerson – Dem. (1963 – 1970)
The same thing could be said of the more recent contests for the AG’s office. In 2002, Brian Sandoval (R) was successful in being elected to the AG’s office by clobbering John Hunt (D) in the general by almost 25 points. Then in 2006, Catherine Cortez-Masto (D) defeated Don Chairez (R) by 18 points. She faced a fairly easy reelection bid in 2010, when she defeated Travis Barrick (R) by a similar margin. Then in 2014, Adam Laxalt was likely the biggest beneficiary of a low-turnout race when he defeated Ross Miller (D) 4,750 votes.
Overall, this race is totally up for grabs at the moment. As it stands, Democrats possess a statewide voter registration advantage of about 5.5 points, so it will all come down to turnout to determine which party wins control of the AG’s office.

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