Democrats run a real nobody against Amodei in CD2 • Nevada Current

Friday was the last day for Nevadans to file as candidates for elected office in 2024. In Nevada’s second congressional district, no Democrat did.

Only four people, all Republicans, have won the solidly red district since its creation after the 1980 census: Barbara Vucanovich, Jim Gibbons, Dean Heller, and the district’s current representative, Mark Amodei.

The district has only seen a couple of what might be called competitive races. In 1992 – Bill Clinton’s “it’s the economy, stupid” election year – Vucanovich got 48% of the vote to Democrat Pete Sferrazza’s 43%.

In this century, the most competitive year for CD2 was 2006. The seat was open that year because the incumbent congressman, Gibbons, was running a wildly bizarre but ultimately successful campaign for governor. 

Heller won a pretty hilarious Republican primary in 2006 against Sharron Angle (who has filed for a state senate seat this year ha ha) and Dawn Gibbons, then the wife of aforementioned wildly bizarre gubernatorial candidate Jim. You may remember 2006 was also the year that the electorate’s palm went to the electorate’s forehead on the Bush-Cheney invasion and occupation of Iraq (doh!). Democrats flipped both the House and the Senate (making Harry Reid the Senate Majority Leader). There was a lot going on!

However, as good as 2006 was for Democrats nationally, Gibbons (Jim, not Dawn) defeated Democratic nominee Dina Titus, now the congresswoman in the first congressional district, in the race for governor. And in CD2, Heller ended up defeating Democrat Jill Derby, 50% to 45%.

CD2 includes Washoe County. Trump lost the county in both 2016 and 2020. But that was offset both times by huge margins of victory in rural counties, and Trump easily won the district overall by double digit percentages against Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020.

Republicans have a heavy voter registration edge over Democrats in the district. In fact, CD2 is the only district in the state where one of the major (but not as major as they used to be) parties has more registered voters than there are voters registered as nonpartisan. In CD2, 37% of registered voters are Republican, 30% are nonpartisan, and 25% are Democrats. Another 6% are registered with the Libertarian Party or the Independent American Party (the IAP being the larger bunch or the two).

Candidates representing both those minor parties have filed to run against Amodei. Amodei also faces a primary challenge from Fred Simon, who finished 6th in the 2022 Republican primary for governor which was won by Gov. Joe Lombardo.

If asked who is the most distinguished and celebrated resident of CD2, most people would probably say Jeremy Renner.

The correct answer, however, is Dame Hellen Mirren. When Patricia Ackerman was the Democratic nominee against Amodei in in 2020, Mirren, a voting U.S. citizen, made a video statement on Ackerman’s behalf, which arguably amounts to the most interesting thing having to do with any Democrat’s candidacy in CD2, certainly since 2006, and perhaps ever. Maybe Mirren should have filed against Amodei.

This brief column was originally published in the Daily Current newsletter, which is free and which you can subscribe to here.

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