Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Friday, Feb. 17, 2012 | 3:32 p.m.
Updated Friday, Feb. 17, 2012 | 5:22 p.m.
Freshman state Sen. Elizabeth Halseth, R-Las Vegas, resigned her office today, citing the demands of being a single mother and difficulty finding a job in Nevada, where “personal attacks … made it impossible to locate employment.”
In a letter to Gov. Brian Sandoval delivered Friday, she said, “I must focus my efforts completely as a mother and job seeker,” she wrote. “I simply cannot provide the level of service to the residents of District 9 they are entitled to.”
The two-page letter said there was a “very real possibility that I will have to relocate” to find work.
Halseth and her husband, Daniel, are getting a divorce. Her husband was arrested last year on "gross and open lewdness" charges.
Halseth’s resignation comes after a Wednesday Legislative Commission meeting, where Democratic lawmakers complained she had not been attending meetings or returning phone calls.
Her resignation from state Senate District 9 will put that seat on the ballot, two years ahead of schedule. Democrats hold a 5 percent point voter registration edge in the district, making Democratic control of the state Senate more likely.
Republicans still believe they can take back control of the state Senate, where Democrats currently have an 11 to 10 majority. But Republicans will have to win five of six seats that are up for election in November, and only one of those seats, the rural seat, has a decisive Republican voter registration advantage.
Some Republicans lobbied Halseth to wait until later this year to resign so the Clark County Commission would be required to appoint a Republican to fill the two years remaining on her term.
For tactical reasons, Democrats wanted to press the issue of whether Halseth would serve in the 2013 Legislature and whether she still lived in her district.
Questions about her residency were not strictly partisan, however.
Conservative political consultant Chuck Muth, who blogged frequently about Halseth’s personal travails, advocated that she resign so conservatives could find a strong candidate instead of having one appointed by Clark County commissioners, who are all Democrats.
Halseth said her “reputation and integrity” were “regularly demonized by selfish partisans and a handful of reckless bloggers with personal agendas of salacious, unfounded personal attacks on me.”
Halseth won her primary against Republican state Sen. Denis Nolan, running as the more conservative candidate. She voted against the tax extension compromise passed by the 2011 Legisature.
In her letter, she blamed Nevada’s nation-leading unemployment and “a President that continues to make it difficult for Nevada businesses to grow, invest and create jobs.”