LAS VEGAS (AP) — Six-term Republican Rep. Mark Amodei has defeated Elizabeth Mercedes Krause, as expected, in Nevada’s rural northern district where no Democrat has ever won.
The 2nd Congressional District was considered the only safe seat for either party among the four in the western battleground of Nevada, where three incumbent Democrats faced stiff challenges. All three of those races were too early to call early Wednesday.
Voting officials in the two most populous counties, encompassing the population centers of Las Vegas and Reno, warned it would take days to process mail-in ballots that can be counted for four days after Election Day as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday.
Amodei, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, has carried at least 58% of the vote since he won his first full term in a special election in 2011. His sprawling district includes Reno, Sparks and Carson City, as well as rural areas across the state from south of Lake Tahoe to north of Elko.
Krause, the chairwoman of the Nevada Native Caucus and a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, was largely unknown and woefully underfunded.
Three Democratic incumbents in Nevada were trying to hold their congressional seats in key races Republicans have targeted nationally in their bid to seize the majority in the U.S. House.
Two swing districts stretching out of Las Vegas through suburbs into rural areas have been highly competitive for a decade. Second-term Rep. Susie Lee faces Republican April Becker and third-term Rep. Steven Horsford is up against Republican Samuel Peters.
And for the first time in years, as a result of redistricting, six-term Rep. Dina Titus is on the hot seat in the Democrat's traditional stronghold encompassing the Las Vegas Strip after party strategists sacrificed some turf in exchange for gains elsewhere. Mark Robertson, a retired Army colonel, is trying to become the first Republican to win that 1st District seat since 1998.
“We always knew this would be a tough race and tonight we will not have the final result,” Titus said in a statement just after midnight. “Election administrators will continue to count ballots in the hours and days ahead.”
Becker, a Las Vegas attorney who narrowly lost her bid to unseat the state Senate leader two years ago, is trying to knock off Lee, who made her staunch support for abortion rights a central point of her reelection campaign. She won by 3 percentage points in 2020 in the 3rd District that geographically borders Arizona.
Peters, a war veteran who lost the GOP congressional primary in 2020, is trying to unseat Horsford, who won reelection by 4.9 percentage points in 2020 in the 4th District, which stretches to Utah.
No GOP presidential candidate has carried Nevada since 2004. But President Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by just 2.4 percentage points in 2020. And Nevada gas prices, which are among the highest in the U.S., have fueled discontent about the economy and inflation.
Roughly three-fourths of Nevada voters say things in the country are heading in the wrong direction, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of more than 2,100 voters in the state.
The economy was at the top of many Nevada voters’ minds, with about 5 in 10 calling it the most important issue facing the country. Immigration, abortion, crime and climate change followed behind, with about 1 in 10 voters naming each of those their top issue.
About 5 in 10 called inflation the single most important factor in deciding how to vote, according to the survey. But Nevada voters were about evenly split over whether they think inflation is due to Biden’s policies or factors outside his control.
Voters view the economy negatively, with nearly 8 in 10 saying economic conditions are either not so good or poor. Only about 2 in 10 call the economy excellent or good. And about a third of voters say their family is falling behind financially.
The Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that recognized a constitutional right to abortion, also played a role in most voters’ decisions, with nearly 8 in 10 calling it a factor in how they cast their ballot. About a quarter call it the single most important factor in their vote.
A majority of Nevada voters also express support for abortion rights, according to the poll, with about 7 in 10 saying it should be legal in either all or most cases.
It wasn’t immediately clear to what extent Biden and/or his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, played a role in Nevada’s congressional races, according to AP VoteCast.
Only about 4 in 10 Nevada voters say they approve of the way Biden is handling his job. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters in Nevada, about 7 of 10 say they consider themselves a supporter of the progressive movement, according to the poll. Among Republican and GOP-leaning voters, about 6 in 10 say they consider themselves a supporter of Trump’s Make America Great Again movement, according to the poll.
Trump did not endorse any of the Republicans running for the House, as he has Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo's bid to unseat Gov. Steve Sisolak and ex-Attorney General Adam Laxalt against Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, considered the Senate's most vulnerable Democrat.
Peters is the congressional candidate who has aligned himself most closely with Trump in his race against Horsford. He urged Republicans in Congress to contest Biden’s win in 2020, and said he wouldn’t have certified it without obtaining more information.
Like other Democrats, Lee has emphasized abortion rights in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade.
Becker opposes abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and harm to the mother and has the support of groups that oppose abortion rights. But she's emphasized on the campaign trail that abortion is legal in Nevada through 24 weeks under a voter-approved measure. She says that means any federal limits on abortion would be unconstitutional.
Outside interest groups on both sides sank millions of dollars into that race.
Associated Press writer Sarah Rankin in Washington, D.C., contributed.
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