Nevada’s post-election legislative landscape

Reno Gazette Journal December 6, 2020

Canvassing of votes from November 3rd election is complete and counties are in the process of certifying the results. While the focus has been at the federal level, there are some impactful results in races for the state legislature that are worth reviewing.

To provide a little context on the legislature, going into this election cycle, Democrats had a majority in both chambers. In the Assembly, the Democrats had a 29-13 advantage, which is better than two-thirds. The advantage was 13-8 in the Senate, just one short of two-thirds. As some of you are probably aware, Nevada’s constitution requires two-thirds majority in both chambers and the signature of the Governor to raise taxes. In essence, if the Democrats picked up one seat in the Senate and held serve in the Assembly, the flood gates were open for tax increases as far as the eye can see.

Needless to say, Democrats focused on picking up one Senate seat. While 10 of the 21 Senate seats were up for election, only three of those seats were held by Republicans. The best option for a pick-up was Senate District 15, where the Democrats held a registration advantage. Senator Heidi Gansert, the Republican incumbent, was able to overcome a Democrat registration (and turnout) advantage to retain her seat. Down south in Clark county, Republican candidate Carrie Buck was elected to the Senate from an open seat, providing a little cushion further denying the two-thirds majority to the Democrats. Democrat Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro outspent her opponent four to one and eked out a win by less than half a percent barely avoiding a disaster.

On the Assembly side, the Democrats already had a two-thirds majority. If all the Democrat incumbents won, they would have kept the two-thirds majority. As it turns out, my good friend Jill Dickman flipped Assembly District 31 in Washoe County. In Clark county, another good friend Andy Matthews flipped Assembly District 37 from Blue to Red, denying Democrats a two-thirds majority in the Assembly. Add those to Richard McArthur flipping Assembly District 4 from Blue to Red and the Republicans have a little insurance from a Democrat two-thirds majority in the Assembly.

While I cheer all Republican victories, I am most upbeat on Republican Assemblyman-Elect Andy Matthews, who won in District 37. Andy is the former President of the conservative thinktank Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) and has already made significant contributions to Nevada policy. I consider Andy a policy genius, and I don’t use the word genius lightly. He is young and can shape policy in the legislature for a long time to come. Andy has tremendous talent and could be immensely successful in the private sector, yet he chose to sacrifice opportunities to build his personal wealth to serve our great state. Rare are the times when someone with Andy’s talent chooses to make the sacrifice to run for public office and Nevada is fortunate to have someone of his caliber in the state legislature.

One final point: While it is easy in the era of 24-hour national network news to have elections for federal office eclipse the results of local elections, this has been a good cycle for Republicans in Nevada. Sure, we could have won a couple more Assembly races (Districts 21 and 29 in Clark County) and retained Washoe County Commission District 1. I wish JD Drakulich had won Reno City Council District 1. All that said, at the end of the day, I am happy with the performance of the Republicans in the state and local races.