Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008 | 2:04 a.m.
An election season that launched almost two years ago concludes today -- we presume -- as America decides which presidential nominee will succeed George W. Bush on Jan. 20. Polls in the Silver State are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Many pundits believe Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, will defeat Republican John McCain. Obama is favored in a majority of the states Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts won in 2004, as well as a few states Bush secured.
How Nevada votes, in the view of many of these pundits, is one of the uncertainties today. Among those in Clark County who voted early and submitted mail-in ballots, Democrats outnumbered Republicans 51 percent to 32 percent. In Washoe County, the Democrats enter today with a 45- to 38-point lead. And recent polls of the state’s electorate have shown Obama to be up about four points.
Some have pointed to the state’s libertarian spirit and proximity to Arizona, McCain’s home state, as hope for Republicans.
There are other key races. Among them:
-- Republican Congressman Jon Porter of Boulder City, who is seeking a fourth term in the House of Representatives, faces his toughest challenge yet in Democrat Dina Titus, the former minority leader of the state Senate. The two have saturated the airwaves with increasingly negative advertisements and personal attacks. It's one of the most competitive congressional races in the country.
-- Congressman Dean Heller, R-Carson City, also is among a few dozen vulnerable Republicans, though his road appears a little less cumbersome than Porter’s. Democrat Jill Derby challenges Heller.
-- State Democrats have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to unseat incumbent Republican state Sens. Bob Beers and Joe Heck. Beers is a hero of the fervent anti-tax community; Heck is considered a potential candidate for higher office in two years – if he can survive a challenge from Shirley Breeden, a retired school administrator. Allison Copening, a public relations specialist, is the Democrats' hope to dethrone Beers. If the Democrats win one of these seats – and if their own incumbents hold serve – the party would gain control of the state Senate.
-- Several state Assembly races are of note, including the battles for two Henderson districts. Political neophytes are battling in both races. In District 29, Republican Sean Fellows faces Democrat April Mastroluca in one of the more monied races. In District 21, Republican Jon Ozark is vying with Democrat Ellen Spiegel. If the Democrats can win one additional seat, they will gain a veto-proof majority in the Assembly. That means if Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons were to reject an approved bill, the Democrat-heavy Assembly could overturn that veto.
-- Two state Supreme Court seats are open, but only one is hotly contested: the spot being vacated by retiring Justice Bill Maupin. Attorney Kris Pickering and Deborah Schumacher, a family court judge in Washoe County, are vying for that seat.
-- Two county commission contests are of note: the expensive battle to replace Bruce Woodbury, a longtime member of the body, and a race between Las Vegas City Councilman Larry Brown and state Assemblywoman Valerie Weber. Republican Brian Scroggins and Democrat Steve Sisolak, who are fighting for Woodbury’s seat, have flooded the airwaves and mailboxes with glossy ads. If Brown and Sisolak win, the Democrats would hold every seat on the commission.