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July 28, 2014

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election 2012:

Incumbents cruise in County Commission races

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Justin M. Bowen

Las Vegas mayoral candidate and county Commissioner Larry Brown organizes his volunteers before they head out to campaign door to door in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011.

Updated Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 | 9:18 p.m.

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Barring an unforeseen outcome, the reality is the Clark County Commission elections were over long before Tuesday’s election.

Money, or the lack of enough of it to spread around to challengers, was the difference-maker.

In races to unseat commissioners Larry Brown, Steve Sisolak, Lawrence Weekly and Tom Collins, challengers were virtual unknowns to the electorate. As expected, they lost their races. After early vote totals were released by 8:30 p.m., all four incumbents were far enough ahead that their re-elections were assured.

Brown had 59 percent of the vote in District C; Sisolak had 59 percent of the vote in District A; Collins had 55 percent in District B; and Weekly had a whopping 82 percent in District D.

Only Brown’s challenger, Craig Lake, had the money to mount something of a challenge in District C, which encompasses most of the northwest valley. Lake reported $263,000 versus Brown’s $585,000. Most of Lake’s money, some $200,000, came out of his own pocket.

In the remaining three county races, the incumbents outraised opponents by vast amounts. Weekly raised $284,000 to $400 by 21-year-old challenger Wesley Cornwell in District D, which includes the area around downtown Las Vegas; Sisolak raised $613,000 versus $4,700 for Barry Herr in District A, which stretches from Laughlin to the central and western valley; and Collins raised $261,000 against Ruth Johnson’s $17,000 in District B, which includes North Las Vegas and most areas north and east of Las Vegas proper.

Subsequently, voters knew little about Johnson’s history on the Clark County School Board, nor did she have the money to hammer Collins about recent run-ins with law enforcement. The electorate also didn’t get much of a chance to see Lake's experience running a lighting business, Herr's acumen with money as a certified public accountant or UNLV student Cornwell’s youthful drive and spirit.

Money talks in elections, because it’s money that allows a candidate to purchase TV, radio and newspaper ads. With the recession, however, fewer donors were willing to do the time-honored practice of giving equal amounts to both candidates -- hedging their bets so they would be looked upon favorably no matter who won.

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