Friday, April 2, 2004 | 10:26 a.m.
This is one Senate seat that won't have the Republicans holding their breath.
In the heavily Democratic Senate District 4, at least four Democrats are eyeing the seat held by Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, for 32 years.
Candidates Cedric Crear, a former Station Casinos marketing executive, and Theresa "Terri" Malone, a member of the Nevada State Board of Education, started planning campaigns in January.
Crear, whose father was the second black doctor registered in Nevada, said he grew up in the district and recently moved back because he wants to help revitalize the neighborhoods.
Malone said people in her district started approaching her long ago to run for the the office, where the boundaries changed in recent redistricting and, she said, people are looking for more help in diversifying the economy and improving education. She also periodically teaches computing classes at Community College of Southern Nevada.
And last week, just before Neal announced he wouldn't run again, Regent Linda Howard announced she would vie for the seat held by Neal, one of her political mentors.
Now Democratic party leaders have said that Steven Horsford, a Democratic national committeeman and the CEO of Nevada Partners, might be interested in the job. Horsford was out of town and could not be reached for comment.
So far, no Republicans have declared they will run.
Political consultant Mike Sullivan, who is representing Crear, said that "thankfully" all four candidates are unique enough that voters shouldn't have too much trouble knowing one from the other.
Senate district 4 was carved out specifically so that a black candidate could win entry into the previously all-white state Legislature. Ever since, Neal has held the spot.
And the district has remained a Democratic stronghold with 20,342 registered Democrats and 9,175 registered Republicans.
"This is definitely a Democratic seat that will certainly be retained by Democrats," said Lindsey Jystrup, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Caucus.
Whoever ends up on top after the Democratic primary will represent a big change for a district that has always been represented by Neal. Some people are looking forward to an era of "young leadership," said Cordell Stokes, a spokesman for the Caucus of African American Nevadans.
"There's a lot of people that feel that it's time for a change of guard," Stokes said. "When you're talking about 30 years, that's normal. There's no disrespect whatsoever."