Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 | 6:59 p.m.
State Sen. John Lee’s is reconsidering running for U.S. Congress, his campaign manager confirmed Tuesday night, easing Democratic Majority Leader Steven Horsford’s chance at success in the district.
“He’s rethinking it,” said Lee’s campaign manager, Ryan Juden. “An awful lot of people are asking him to stay in the state to provide some leadership on issues in the state. He's leaving his options open.”
That includes, Juden said, running again for his current senate seat in North Las Vegas.
Democrats have had too many candidates for the three southern Nevada congressional seats, offering a test of the Democratic machine that has all but eliminated primary battles to conserve resources for beating Republicans.
Mostly, the party has been consumed by the looming battle between former Rep. Dina Titus, and state Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, both of whom have announced for CD1 and both have significant Democratic bases.
State Democrats have also been privately concerned about a primary battle between Lee and Horsford in the newly created CD4. Lee, a businessman and conservative Democrat, was seen as a longshot. But he has told donors he's willing to spend $1 million on the congressional race.
The seat has a 13-point Democratic advantage, but includes many rural Nevada counties, where Republican voters traditionally turn out. State Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, announced this week that she is running for the seat.
While Lee backing out would ease Horsford’s path to victory, it creates a logjam in down-ticket races. Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, has already announced his candidacy for state senate. He lives in Lee’s seat.
Atkinson could run for Horsford’s old open seat, but Assemblywoman Dina Neal, D-Las Vegas, has already announced for that seat.
Atkinson said, “I’m not surprised he may be reconsidering.”
He said he’s been running for the senate for the past two months and raising money. But, he said, he never announced where he would run.
“I will have to consider my options if he chose to reenter the race,” Atkinson said.