Las Vegas Sun

September 2, 2014

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The stories told by the candidates’ bank accounts

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Sun Staff

Republican Joe Heck and Democrat Erin Bilbray are bidding for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District seat in the 2014 November general election.

It’s that time of the campaign cycle when candidates are judged by how much money they’ve raised.

Nevada’s congressional lawmakers — and hopeful congressional lawmakers— filed campaign finance reports this week for money they raised from April through June. It’s a key filing date before the November elections, a signal to outside groups and political committees of whether to invest in a candidate.

Of course, money isn’t everything in a campaign. But it almost is. So here are three takeaways from Nevada’s federal midterm candidates’ campaign finances:

1) Heck still has a major fundraising advantage over Bilbray

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Republican congressional nominee Cresent Hardy, left, is running against Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in the November primary election.

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Congresswoman Dina Titus

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Mark Amodei

Rep. Joe Heck, a Republican vying for a third term to represent Henderson and Boulder City, has a lot more money than his Democratic challenger, political adviser Erin Bilbray.

About $1 million more.

Heck’s campaign reported $1.4 million cash on hand, having raised $387,000 these past four months.

Bilbray raised a similar amount this quarter, but she has only $500,000 cash on hand.

The race is one of November’s most competitive congressional races. Republican and Democratic strategists in Washington, D.C., spun the news to their benefit. Although the district leans Republican — according to nonpartisan political analyst Stuart Rothenberg, who ranks all the country’s congressional districts — Democrats are hopeful because voter registration in the district is split between Democrats and Republicans.

Expect both sides to fight like the election is on the line.

2) Does Horsford have a serious challenger?

Rep. Steven Horsford, a freshman Democrat representing North Las Vegas and the rural parts north, achieved his campaign goal of raising $1 million this election cycle. Meanwhile, his challenger, Assemblyman Cresent Hardy, is actually in debt by $1,000. Making matters worse, since winning the Republican primary in June, Hardy has raised just $3,000.

Hardy is going to need to report a much bigger number by October, the next time candidates report their finances, if he wants support from national Republicans. And by then, it may be too late.

Political observers like journalist Jon Ralston are already predicting the campaign’s “game over.”

3) Titus, Amodei play it safe against unknown challengers

Another takeaway: Lawmakers representing Nevada’s two safest districts aren’t getting too comfortable in their re-election campaigns against lesser-known candidates.

Rep. Dina Titus, a Las Vegas Democrat, raised about $140,000 this quarter against Republican

Dr. Annette Teijeiro, who is financing much of her own campaign. Teijeiro’s campaign is a long shot, including financially. She has $103,000 cash on hand to Titus’ $350,000. But the fact Titus raised so much in such a safe Democratic district could mean she’s not taking any chances with her re-election.

Rep. Mark Amodei, a Republican representing much of Northern Nevada, also spent some time fundraising this quarter. He raised $63,000, for a total of about $270,000 cash on hand — his best cycle to date.

Amodei has less money than the other members in his delegation, but it should be enough to defeat Democratic challenger and attorney Kristen Spees in the heavily Republican district.

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