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September 2, 2014

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Primary election 2014:

Five takeaways from Mark Hutchison’s win, the Tea Party’s defeats and the union-business battle brewing for sheriff

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Steve Marcus

Mark Hutchison, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, finishes a call from Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval during a primary election night party at Dom Demarco’s Pizzeria Tuesday, June 10, 2014. Supporter Adriana Toscano celebrates in the background.

Updated Tuesday, June 10, 2014 | 10:50 p.m.

Nevada Republican Party’s Primary Night

Lieutenant Governor candidate Sue Lowden shares a few words with Assemblywoman Michele Fiore as Republicans gather at Mundo restaurant on Monday, June 9, 2014. Launch slideshow »

Mark Hutchison Wins Primary

Mark Hutchison, right, Republican candidate for Lt. Governor, greets supporters during an primary election night party at Dom Demarco's Pizzeria Tuesday, June 10, 2014. Launch slideshow »

2014 Elections

Patrick Casey casts his ballot at the Winchester Cultural Center Tuesday, June 10, 2014. Launch slideshow »

Five takeaways from today's election:

Expect the expected: The 2014 primary will go down as one of the most unsurprising in recent history. Rory Reid, Sen. Harry Reid's son and a political commentator, called it the "most boring election in Nevada history." The favorites, party establishment and big money won. The proof: Mark Hutchison for lieutenant governor, Cresent Hardy for Congressional District 4, Minority Leader Michael Roberson for state Senate.

No signs of the Cantor effect: Just hours before Nevada’s polls closed, U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost to a Tea Party-backed candidate in Virginia. The question in Nevada was whether far-right candidates like Sue Lowden, Niger Innis and Carl Bunce could take out the Republican establishment candidates. The answer across the board was no. Republicans will now try to unite their party for the general election. “We have to make sure we get everyone to stand behind the winners," said Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald.

Voter turnout near record lows: Statewide, 18.2 percent of Nevada’s 1.2 million registered voters cast a ballot as of 11 p.m. today. The Nevada Secretary of State’s records go back to 1962 and the lowest turnout on record was 18.0 percent in the 2008 primary. At the polls, Republican Annalise Castor showed up to vote at Palo Verde High School and brought her three children along. “I’ve never seen anyone so not excited,” she said. “I wish I could be. There’s nobody who’s really that great.”

Big fights coming for November: The primary results hint that we’ll see big money and influence come to play in two general election races: lieutenant governor and Clark County sheriff. The lieutenant governor race will pit Mark Hutchison (backed by Gov. Brian Sandoval and his Republican machine) against Lucy Flores (backed by Harry Reid and his Democratic machine). Hutchison spent more than $1 million just to get out of the primary. In the sheriff’s race, Assistant Sheriff Joe Lombardo has the support of the Strip and built a war chest of more than $1 million. He’ll face off against retired Capt. Larry Burns, who has the union’s support.

The Democrats’ hole at the top of the ticket: Reid runs the Democratic party machine in Nevada, and in February he promised the party would have a strong candidate to challenge Sandoval. But that never happened, in large part because Sandoval polls so well that he’s nearly unbeatable. "None of these candidates” — an option on the ballot — was winning the Democratic vote at times during election night, a black eye for the party of the Senate majority leader. Robert Goodman, a relative unknown, won the most votes of any candidate and will represent the party in November.

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A poll worker is shown after polls closed at Walter Johnson Junior High School in Las Vegas, Tuesday, June 10, 2014.

Here are some highlights from the biggest races in Southern Nevada:

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

The background: The Republican primary in this race is the most closely watched campaign of the primary. Mark Hutchison, hand-picked by Gov. Brian Sandoval, is the establishment candidate. Sue Lowden is the far-right candidate. The race sparked a record-setting spending spree. Hutchison raised $1.4 million and spent more than $1 million. Lowden dumped nearly $300,000 of her own cash into the race. The winner will face Democrat Lucy Flores in the general election. Flores didn’t have a serious primary challenger.

The results: Hutchison collected 54 percent of the vote to defeat Lowden, who had 36 percent. At her election night party, Lowden said: “The results are disappointing but we’ve had a real good night of celebrating after working so hard on the campaign.” Lowden said she'll support Hutchison in the general election against Flores. Hutchison celebrated with supporters, including Sandoval's campaign staff, at Dom DeMarco’s Pizzeria near Summerlin.

CLARK COUNTY SHERIFF

The background: Nine candidates are running. Four of them have the experience and support to potentially win the position. Assistant Sheriff Joe Lombardo is the leading candidate with an endorsement from outgoing Sheriff Doug Gillespie and a campaign war chest of more than $1 million. Retired Metro Capt. Larry Burns won the police officer union’s support. Assistant Sheriff Ted Moody got an endorsement from the chamber of commerce. Former Metro Sgt. Robert Gronauer is the fourth leading candidate but a longshot.

The results: Lombardo leads with 36 percent and Burns is second with 28 percent. They will face off in the general election. Lombardo has already raised more than twice as much money as Burns. After he made the runoff tonight, Burns said: "I have to now earn funds sufficient to let people know who I am and what I've accomplished and why I believe I'm the right choice. This entire time I've been talking about violent crime and that it's something we have to face." Lombardo said: "Not coming up in politics, the biggest hurdle is name recognition and who we are. I think people are starting to listen. They are starting to hear my message and understand my experience."

CONGRESS

The background: Nevada’s four incumbent candidates will coast through their primaries. The state’s biggest federal race is between two Republicans in the 4th District. Tea party candidate and political consultant Niger Innis is battling Assemblyman Cresent Hardy for the right to face Rep. Steven Horsford in the November general election.

The results: Hardy won with 43 percent to Innis' 32 percent. Innis said: “It was the consultant class against us. It was truly David versus Goliath.”

CLARK COUNTY COMMISSION

The background: Three well-funded, incumbent Democrats face little opposition. Susan Brager, Chris Giunchigliani and Mary Beth Scow each are expected to win their races. The general election opposition for each of them isn’t expected to be much stronger.

The results: Brager (53 percent), Giunchigliani (85 percent) and Scow (83 percent) coasted to victories.

CONSTABLES

The background: Constable positions in Goodsprings, Henderson and North Las Vegas are on the ballot. Constables serve civil documents such as subpoenas, property liens, court summonses and wage garnishments. They are not police officers. The Las Vegas Township constable’s office would have been on the ballot but the Clark County Commission eliminated it last year.

The results: In the Democratic primary for Henderson constable, just 23 votes separate Terry Watson and Joe Pitts as of 10 p.m.

OTHER STATEWIDE RACES

Governor: Gov. Brian Sandoval is coasting to re-election because he faces no serious opposition in the primary or from Democrats in the general election.

Assembly: Democrats hold a 27-15 advantage. In District 3, the passing of Democrat Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce means the seat is wide open in a six-person primary race.

The results: Nelson Araujo leads five candidates in the Democratic primary for District 3 with 42 percent.

Senate: Democrats hold an 11-10 advantage. Republican Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson faces far-right challenger Carl Bunce in the primary. The winner is expected to face a tough battle in the general election.

The results: Roberson beat Bunce 58 percent to 42 percent.

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