Las Vegas Sun

May 20, 2019

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Ross Miller’s decision to stay out of congressional race highlights dilemma for Democrats

1104 Democrats 3

Steve Marcus

Ross Miller is joined by his wife, Lesley, as he delivers a concession speech during an election night party for Democrats at the MGM Grand on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. Miller was running for Nevada attorney general.

Ross Miller’s decision to stay out of the race in the third congressional district is bad news for Democrats. But the party — still on the hunt for a candidate that can take on one of Nevada’s powerful Republicans — is not without hope.

Miller, a former secretary of state and son of Gov. Bob Miller, was one of few Democratic candidates mulling a run against state Sen. Michael Roberson — the establishment Republican lawmaker hoping to replace GOP Rep. Joe Heck in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District. On Monday, Miller announced his decision on Ralston Live.

Miller’s absence creates a big gap for the party in the early months of the campaign cycle — a time that’s pivotal for fundraising and rallying a base. But the party thinks it has some breathing room thanks to GOP infighting.

Roberson, a Republican with deep ties to Washington and Gov. Brian Sandoval, has a host of GOP primary challengers who are challenging him on his support for Sandoval’s $1.1 billion tax increase to bolster public education. Danny Tarkanian, who has run for several other offices in the past, and Andy Matthews, president of the conservative Nevada Policy Research Institute, are running against Roberson in the primary. Annette Teijeiro, a candidate in last year’s race in Nevada’s 1st Congressional District, has also announced she will be running.

For some Democrats, the news is a blow but not a knockout. “While the Republicans are heading into a long and divisive primary that will put them in a weak position for the general election, we’re continuing to engage potential candidates and playing to win in this swing district,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Tyler Law.

Republicans are using Miller’s decision not to enter as evidence that they will hold the seat in the upcoming election. “Ross Miller could read the writing on the wall, and now Democrats are left scrambling to find someone, anyone, to run,” said Zach Hunter, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "The 3rd District has long been the place where Democrat dreams go to die, and it is looking increasingly obvious that 2016 will be no different."

The dearth of Democratic candidates in the 3rd District contrasts with the abundance of candidates in the nearby 4th District. Four Democrats have lined up to run against GOP incumbent Cresent Hardy, a former state lawmaker who won the seat in the past election. Ruben Kihuen, a sitting state senator, former state lawmakers Lucy Flores and John Oceguera and education advocate Susie Lee have announced their candidacies.

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