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August 19, 2014

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Politics:

Cresent Hardy won the primary, now faces big test against Rep. Steven Horsford

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Sun Staff

Republican congressional nominee Cresent Hardy, left, is running against Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in the November primary election.

Republican congressional nominee Cresent Hardy may have coasted to victory in his primary, but now the real work begins if he wants to unseat Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford for the North Las Vegas seat.

"It's good to win," Hardy said a day after Tuesday's primary. "But I guess we've got to move on to the next battle."

Horsford is the heavy favorite. District 4, which covers North Las Vegas and parts of central, rural Nevada, is listed as 91 percent likely to stay with the first-term incumbent, according to The Washington Post election lab.

Horsford sits on the powerful oversight and financial services committees in Congress. He's an outspoken proponent of immigration reform and high on his priority list is mortgage refinancing for struggling Nevada homeowners.

Horsford brushed off questions about Hardy on Wednesday, saying he's focused on his job in Congress rather than his re-election.

"I'm going to stay focused on the work the people elected me to do," he said. The November election will take care of itself, and we'll be ready."

Hardy is an assemblyman representing District 19, much of which covers Lake Mead and the region directly east of Las Vegas. The Mesquite native calls himself a "constitutional conservative" and believes federal government should "get out of the way" of Nevadans.

The state's top Republicans, Gov. Brian Sandoval and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, endorsed Hardy, who beat political activist and Tea Party candidate Niger Innis 43 percent to Innis' 32 percent in the primary.

While Innis conceded the race to Hardy, his campaign on Thursday asked for an audit of the results, questioning 22 percent of votes a little-known third candidate, Mike Monroe, received.

It’s not clear if Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller will take up the audit.

For the general election, Hardy is focusing on the economy and the need for a change in Washington. Horsford has had two years to make life better for Nevadans and hasn't, Hardy said.

"We can't continue to tax and spend, overtax and spend," he said.

But fundraising will be Hardy's biggest challenge. He needs to persuade those same voters unhappy with the economy to donate generously to his campaign if he wants to earn anywhere near the $1.7 million Horsford raised in his 2012 election bid.

Even worse, national Republican operatives and outside groups aren't paying too much attention to the race, preferring instead to devote their resources to the more competitive District 3.

There, Rep. Joe Heck, a Republican whose district covers Henderson, is facing a challenge from Democratic political operative Erin Bilbray.

Hardy knows he ha a long way to go until November, but as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor learned this week, anything can happen in politics.

And sometimes, the press gets it wrong.

"There's been a lot of discussion in the press that this is an unwinnable seat," he said. "If I believed that, I wouldn't run."

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