Las Vegas Sun

September 26, 2016

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GOP gains power in Legislature, but Democrats keep control

The Nevada Legislature took a Republican turn Tuesday but Democrats retained control of both houses.

In the Senate, Democrats failed to protect or take the three seats they had targeted, leaving Democrats clinging to an 11 to 10 advantage.

In the Assembly, Democrats appeared poised to lose two seats. That would make Republicans relevant again in the lower house. Democrats in 2009 held a 28-14 advantage - two-thirds, enough to raise taxes or override a governor's veto without bipartisan support.

But who heads that caucus is very much in doubt. Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, is the current leader. Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, who has said he's more conservative, has openly expressed interest.

In perhaps a bellweather of the caucus' direction, establishment-backed Jodi Stephens lost to Ira Hansen, who was supported by the libertarian-leaning wing of the caucus. Both are Republicans.

• In the Assembly:

Incumbent Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel, D-Henderson, was trailing Republican Mark Sherwood, 50-48, with 16 percent of precincts reporting. And Republican Pete Livermore was leading Democrat Robin Williamson to replace Democratic Assemblywoman Bonnie Parnell in Carson City's seat.

• State Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, was losing 48-52 to Republican attorney Michael Roberson, with 33 percent of precincts reporting. Elizabeth Halseth, a first-time candidate who beat incumbent and moderate Republican Sen. Dennis Nolan in June's primary, was holding off Democrat Benny Yerushalmi 50 to 45 percent. And Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, was handily beating Democratic attorney Tammy Peterson 57 to 43 percent.

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