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July 23, 2014

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ELECTION 2012:

Top five Nevada campaign moments

Campaign 2012 has been a season of twists and turns, upsets and smack downs, chaos and… well, more chaos.

But it’s over now.

Here’s a look at the top five Nevada campaign moments that brought us to this point.

    • 1. House ethics committee proceeds against Berkley

      When the House Ethics Committee voted unanimously July 9 to pursue a formal investigation into charges Democrat Shelley Berkley used her position as a congresswoman to enrich her family, it wasn’t necessarily a death knell.

      But it sure made life a whole lot harder for the Democrat in Nevada’s most closely fought statewide race.

      Instead of being able to point to a committee decision clearing her of charges she promoted certain Medicare policies because her husband is a doctor, Berkley had to counter, at nearly every turn, accusations of corruption.

    • 2. Democrat Leslie resigns safe state Senate seat to run against Republican Brower

      In perhaps the biggest surprise of campaign 2012, veteran Democratic lawmaker Sheila Leslie stepped down from a seat she could have held for another decade to run against Republican up-and-comer Sen. Greg Brower.

      Leslie’s decision to run in the competitive race against the senator appointed to late Sen. Bill Raggio’s seat wasn’t purely political. She had bought a house that was drawn into the district by the court during reapportionment.

      But such a move is unheard of in politics and created one of the most closely watched races of the season.

    • 3. Republican Halseth resigns to become a swimsuit model

      Republicans had been licking their chops at the prospect of taking over the state Senate. They had three open seats in play. And, after recruiting a stellar bench of candidates, they had strong prospects of winning them.

      But then state Sen. Elizabeth Halseth, whose district became decidedly more Democratic in reapportionment, became embroiled in an ugly and public divorce. On Feb. 17, Halseth handed in her resignation letter, stepping down so she could take care of her family dispute.

      She also went on to compete in a Maxim swimsuit modeling contest.

      The timing of her resignation put the competitive district on the ballot, and Democrats were ready with a candidate.

      The move, along with Leslie’s resignation, meant Republicans had to battle in five, instead of three, races.

    • Ron Paul supporters pose for a picture after an abbreviated session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012.

      4. Nevada Republican Party implodes and Team Nevada rises

      When is the worst time to have your disorganized, badly underfunded, racked-by-scandal state party completely collapse? Right before a critical election in which your state will be one of a handful to decide the presidency.

      But that’s just what happened to the Nevada Republican Party. The implosion was helped along by the Ron Paul Revolution, with Paul supporters virtually taking over what little party structure was left.

      As a result, donors and staff fled the party.

      In its wake rose Team Nevada — a joint Republican operation built by the Romney and Heller campaigns with seasoned Nevada operatives. They built a last-minute turnout machine that exceeded expectations for the GOP.

    • Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama answer a question during the third presidential debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla.

      5. Mitt Romney tells Nevadans housing market needs to hit bottom; President Barack Obama spends three days practicing for the lowest point of his campaign

      The presidential candidates spent copious amounts of time in Nevada this year, but they were careful enough not to really make any national news while they were here.

      Two incidents stand out, however.

      When Romney still was in the throes of a protracted primary fight, he sat down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board. During the meeting, he uttered a line that haunted him as he worked to win voters in the state most battered by the foreclosure crisis.

      “Don't try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom," he said, only to spend the rest of the campaign pitching some modicum of housing relief measures.

      Perhaps Obama’s most newsworthy Nevada moment actually happened in Colorado when he tanked badly in the first debate. Where did he spend the precious few days preparing for the performance that disheartened Democrats everywhere? Lake Las Vegas.

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