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GOP maintains stranglehold on 2nd Congressional District



Republican Mark Amodei speaks at a victory party in Reno on Tuesday after defeating Democrat Kate Marshall in a special election for Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District. Amodei’s daughters Erin, left, and Ryanne were among the supporters on hand.

Updated Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011 | 11:23 p.m.

Amodei wins in special election

KSNV coverage of Republican Mark Amodei winning against Democrat Kate Marshall for Nevada's 2nd Congressional District seat, Sept. 13, 2011.

Click to enlarge photo

Kate Marshall

Special election coverage

Republican Mark Amodei chalked up a crushing victory in Tuesday’s special election for U.S. Sen. Dean Heller’s old House seat, routing Democrat Kate Marshall by 22 percentage points.

With an assist by national Republicans wary of losing another special election in the run-up to a presidential campaign year, Amodei’s win surprised few in the heavily Republican district.

“The voters of Nevada sent a message,” Amodei told a cheering room of supporters. “That message unmistakably is: It’s time to start a change.”

In a sad acquiescence to the inevitability of the loss, Marshall’s campaign booked an election night celebration room with a capacity for fewer than 100 people.

“You expressed yourselves. You were a voice. I am humbled you did this in support of me. I honor you,” Marshall told about 50 supporters gathered at a Reno hotel.

Amodei received 74,976 votes, or 58 percent, while Marshall collected 46,669 votes, or 36 percent.

As both parties rushed to spin the results in their favor, Marshall’s loss raised the question many in her party have been asking election after election: Can a Democrat win Nevada’s most Republican, mostly rural congressional district?

With a 30,000-voter registration edge, the GOP has a built-in advantage in the 2nd Congressional District that was only amplified in the low-turnout special election that drew almost all inveterate voters — those who religiously vote in every election with little need of a push by any campaign.

“Can a Democrat win CD2? Well, I mean lightning can strike, sure,” Democratic political consultant Billy Vassiliadis said. “But it would have to be an ideal situation — an incredibly unpopular incumbent, a big presidential year. You would just have to have so many things to line up for a Democrat to win in that current structure.”

That doesn’t keep the party from trying. Some seasoned Democratic politicians in Northern Nevada turn down supporters who urge them to run each election year, saying “it can’t be done.”

But for the past three elections, Democrats have run a candidate. In 2006, Jill Derby lost by 4 points to Heller, the closest a Democrat has come to winning the seat.

But even in near-perfect conditions such as in 2008 — a national election driving turnout, a flawed Republican opponent, an electorate eager for change — then-Sen. Barack Obama lost the district by 100 votes.

Still, Washoe County’s status as an important swing county, and the strides the party has made in organizing Washoe and Carson City, have tantalized Democrats.

The same was true for the special congressional election, which the party had hoped would create the perfect conditions for a Democrat. Secretary of State Ross Miller declared an open ballot election, which would have drawn multiple Republicans — a scenario Democrats had hoped would divide the GOP vote enough to allow a single Democratic candidate to win.

That scenario never materialized.

The Nevada Republican Party, headed at the time by Amodei, sued, arguing parties have the right to nominate candidates for the ballot.

In reality, the election was largely over for Marshall when the Nevada Supreme Court agreed with the Republicans.

That didn’t keep Marshall from trying.

Even in the early days after the Supreme Court decision, conditions looked somewhat promising.

Amodei proved to be a lackadaisical fundraiser. Marshall out-raised him nearly 2-to-1. Democrats have a superior turnout machine in Nevada. And national Democrats expressed interest in helping Marshall.

But that support never materialized — neither from national Democrats nor the in-state turnout machine.

And the more conservative Marshall tacked to appeal to the district’s voters, the more she antagonized the Democratic base she needed to offset Republicans’ disciplined voting performance.

Marshall railed against Amodei for supporting the 2003 state tax increase, which Democrats argued was needed to properly fund education and other state services. She repeated her adamant support for the Republican position of protecting the Bush tax cuts — even for the most wealthy income earners. And she was critical of Obama’s stimulus package.

Unlike Derby, who also struck a conservative tone when she ran, Marshall appeared to be picking a fight with a sitting Democratic president still popular with the base.

“Kate feeling the need to speak against the stimulus, the Bush tax cuts, those are sort of really important issues of the president and by extension our Democratic base,” Vassiliadis said. “Jill (Derby) could run center-right and still have great contrast with Bush. Now Kate’s showing great contrast with her own president. That is the rub with the base.”

Running as a liberal likely wouldn’t have helped matters.

“Regardless of the (change in demographics) in Washoe County, it’s still a center-right area,” one Republican with knowledge of the district said. “They are not going to go for someone with liberal values. But, if you abandon your core principles as Democrat, you’re in trouble.”

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  1. "Stranglehold?" Maybe, to myopic liberals the resounding GOP victory in NV-CD2 is considered as such, but to realists the victory can be viewed as "a loving touch" and much needed to save our state. Congratulations, Congressman-elect Mark Amodei. Incidentally, Representative Shelley Berkley, can you hear us now?

  2. Northern Nevada doesn't want to loose the money from Clark County to pay their infrastructure and operational bills.

    Amodei will be the long hand that takes what has never been earned to pay the bills of the financially dependent northern Nevada. The north practices socialism all the time - taking what then have never earned while complaining about 'liberals'.

    The North doesn't need or want industry and with Amodei's help, will drag the rest of the State down with them in isolationism. They will also vote for Perry to keep the desert as empty as it was 100 years ago.

  3. Ms. Damon,

    The word stranglehold is defined as "any force or influence that restricts the free actions or development of a person or group"...the only other definition refers to a wrestling hold...

    It would seem to me that you misused the word stranglehold, either intentionally or unintentionally. Respectfully, I request you please change the title.


  4. "Now it is up to Republicans to keep their promises and contine the investigations into corruption"

    Being the reason for this election is Republican John Ensign's corruption and ethics violations, resulting in his disgraced resignation, your words are quite funny. Thanks for the laugh.

    Also, before jumping on the bandwagon concerning Solyndra read this article

  5. This went as expected. The real story is the New York election of a republican to take Anthony Weiner's old seat in a highly democratic district.

    Anybody who voted for Obama should not be surprised with the economy. You are getting exactly what you voted for.

    November 2012 will see landslide victories for republicans.

  6. Hi Jimmy,
    Care to respond to Lynn's link on solyndra? How about this one:

    "You'd never know from the media coverage that:

    The Bush team tried to conditionally approve the Solyndra loan just before President Obama took office.

    The company's backers included private investors who had diverse political interests.

    The loan comprises just 1.3 percent of the Department of Energy's (DOE) overall loan portfolio. To date, Solyndra is the only loan that's known to be troubled."

    Pesky darn reality!

  7. Purgatory - the word Stranglehold was used appropriately - Amodei immediatley signed a pleadge putting himself in Grover's stranglehold. He pledged to do whatever Grover told him, not what is good for the voters. What kind of an idiot would vote for someone who would pledge to work against voters?

  8. Jimmy,
    You would have more credibility if you could even get the loan amount correct. As to the viability of green tech, companies of all stripes fail all the time and more so in tough economic times. Look at the strip and talk to me about the recession proof casino industry. You HAVE noticed the steel skeletons on the strip right? How much money was lost there again? Your points regarding the DOE are laughably shallow but nothing less than I expect from you.

  9. A harbinger of things to come in the Year of Our Lord 2012?

  10. All the gamblers building those properties on the strip were using others money. You have provided nothing but your own assertions which are easily proven shallow and wrong but you will, in predictable fashion, continue to make them while exhibiting the usual characteristics of a Dunning-Kruger poster boy.

  11. Jimmy,
    If you want to live in a civilized country you are required to pay taxes or enjoy your stay in Somalia. That you complain makes you...slow, sadistic, and possibly sociopathic. Next, learn what non sequitur means and how it is properly spelled. I guess the high school equivalency just didn't take for you. Meanwhile, the socialist democracies of Northern Europe are doing much better than your crony capitalist fantasy here in the U.S. could ever hope to do. Just admit you want everyone treated like sh*t already.