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Ruben Kihuen drops out of CD1 race, clearing way for Dina Titus

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012 | 7:29 p.m.

Ruben Kihuen

Ruben Kihuen

Dina Titus

Dina Titus

Democratic State Sen. Ruben Kihuen announced Tuesday evening he is suspending his bid to represent Nevada’s 1st Congressional District, ending an already bitter primary fight between two prominent public figures in Nevada’s most Democrat-leaning district.

Kihuen and former Rep. Dina Titus, also a Democrat, both declared themselves candidates for Congressional District 1 this fall, setting up a battle almost nobody in the party wanted and forcing politicians to silently take sides.

“Unfortunately, the reality is that continuing my efforts to win in what would promise to be a resource-draining primary at this time is not in the best interest for me, my family, my community and my party,” Kihuen said in a statement announcing his departure from the race.

Kihuen pledged to remain in the state Senate, and “do everything I can” to help elect what is the party’s now uncontested bill: President Barack Obama for the White House, Rep. Shelley Berkley for the Senate, state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford for the 4th District, state Assembly Speaker John Oceguera for the 3rd District, and his old rival, Titus, for the 1st.

But up until this announcement, things were not so cohesive and harmonious.

Kihuen, 31, was the first to announce his candidacy for the 1st District, in the midst of a contentious redistricting process. That set off a scramble among Democratic candidates who had announced their intention to run to fall into congressional silos even before the lines were drawn.

He was seen as the favorite of the party’s fastest-growing Hispanic demographic, and of the party’s top kingmaker, Sen. Harry Reid.

Democrats pressured Titus to step aside and declare herself for the swing 3rd District, the one she’d represented before losing by a slim margin to Republican Rep. Joe Heck.

But Titus didn’t accept that tacit determination, opting instead for the safer 1st District seat, where any Democrat who gets elected stands a strong chance of being re-elected for several cycles to come.

But even if the opinion of the party power elite was against Titus, the numbers — polls, fundraising, even age — were against Kihuen.

An early internal poll from the Titus campaign showed the former congresswoman pulling seven times the vote Kihuen could muster districtwide, and about three times as many votes as Kihuen among the Hispanics that were supposed to be his base.

The Titus campaign also more than doubled Kihuen's in 2011 fundraising, a feat they loudly trumpeted last week when numbers were released. As of Dec. 31, Titus had raised $422,000, keeping $327,000 in cash on hand, while Kihuen had only raised $189,000, with about $135,000 cash on hand.

Titus was gracious in her statement about Kihuen’s departure.

“Sen. Kihuen is a dedicated public servant who has always put the interests of Nevada first. He ran a strong campaign that inspired young people to work for the good of our state,” Titus said. “I look forward to working with him to create jobs, advocate for minority interests, and diversify Nevada’s economy.” 

But those who backed Kihuen did not seem to coordinate with the Titus campaign about his departure, as top party officials had had a chance to praise Kihuen for his decision and magnanimously endorse Titus before her campaign was able to scramble together a response.

“Sen. Ruben Kihuen is an outstanding public servant with a very bright future in Nevada politics,” state party Chairwoman Roberta Lange said in a statement. “Nevada Democrats are united behind Dina Titus and we look forward to sending her back to Congress to fight for Nevada families.”

Reid was effusive in his parting praise for Kihuen.

“Sen. Kihuen remains a rising star in Nevada and the Democratic Party. Each day, he breaks new barriers and inspires tens of thousands of young people with his hard work on behalf of this state and his commitment to helping all Nevadans achieve a better life for themselves and their families,” Reid said in a statement. Last month, Reid brought Kihuen to the Capitol as his invited guest to observe the State of the Union address to Congress.

“With Tea Party Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, Nevada’s middle-class families need Dina Titus in their corner fighting to protect Medicare and Social Security, create good-paying jobs that can’t be shipped overseas and holding Wall Street bankers and Big Oil executives accountable,” Reid continued. “I am proud to endorse her bid for Congress and look forward to working with her to put Nevadans back to work.”

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  1. Well, I guess having a rep who can drop the "F" bomb once in a while won't be all bad. I don't see CD1 (my district) voting Republican and Titus can't possibly be any worse than Shelly.

  2. You know one thing the Las Vegas Sun could do for me is STOP USING THAT PICTURE OF RUBEN!

  3. What a shame. Kihuen could have galvanized support for a fresh start in the House. Titus' record is mixed, at best. When you can't convince voters to put you in the Governor's mansion over someone like Jim Gibbons, maybe it's time to step out of the public spotlight.

  4. Once again the carpeting bagging cracker is on the move. Unelectable in one District? No problem. Move to a more favorable one. One in which the drones check the "D" box regardless of whether the candidate has morals, ethics or honesty. Berkeley was a prime example of that fact. Being purely a political animal, Titus has no shame, only the desire for power. Hopefully, she'll keep her "finger-nails-on-a-blackboard" mouth shut!

  5. Timing is everything, they say. In this particular time and situation, it was unfortunate for Democratic State Sen. Ruben Kihuen. Before he runs again for another office, he should create a service track record that will scream out to voters of efforts and achievements in leadership and truly representing constituents. That is/was lacking this go-round, by the opinion of many.

    The Hispanic community needs to become more active and visiable, make more effort in pushing illegals towards becoming citizens and participating in the process and being a positive presence. Presently, most American Citizens harbor some resentment and even hostility towards ALL Hispanics legal and illegal because of the negative images that some present.

    The mainstream does NOT have the "feel" that Democratic State Sen. Ruben Kihuen is effectively addressing these issues, and they do, right or wrong, hold him to it. Kihuen needs to work in that area and prove he's on it, getting it resolved.

    Blessings and Peace,

  6. I have nothing but utmost respect and admiration for Mr. Kihuen and his decision to do what is right for Nevada. I am sure he will go far in politics as time goes on.

    I stand fully with Ms. Titus and will pound the pavement in my neighborhood here in Eastern Las Vegas to help her get elected. She has proven in the past that she stands with people of every race. And I was particularly pleased of how she worked with military veteran issues.

    I will do my best to make sure she cruises to a victory.

    But my work isn't done.

    Still one thing to do. Call me vindictive. I don't care. I am soon to be no longer in his district, but all I know is that Congressman Heck needs to go. Go somewhere else.

    His first vote in office was to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And this is a guy who used to be an emergency room doctor! He could care less if people in his district live or die.

    He still thinks Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.

    He stands with big oil. He will kick his constituents out of the way to please them too. He wants campaign money. Up to now since he was elected, he has spent over half of every day in office collecting money. Not doing his job. To him, that's secondary. Because Speaker Boehner tells him what to do and how to vote. Not Nevada.

    As a matter of fact, he stands so firm with big oil interests that he had two town hall meetings at their behest. And these town hall meetings were not open to the public. There was a price of admission to get in.

    People in 3CD need to wake up and get rid of him.

    To this day, he has never ever held a town hall meeting in Eastern Las Vegas. And ever since November 2011, when he found out the re-districting happened, Congressman Joe "Pay Per View" Heck he has COMPLETELY IGNORED Eastern Las Vegas. We are of no value to him anymore.

    Sunrise Mountain could turn into an active volcano, explode and cover us with a mountain of hot lava, and he could care less. But he would exploit that disaster for political purposes though.

    People need to wake up in CD3 and realize that you are at HIS behest. Not the other way around.

    You deserve better. Vote him out. He has shown he only wants your vote, your respect and your loyalty, but he don't want to do anything to earn it.