Legislative shuffle just made job harder for Nevada Democrats

By | November 15, 2020

legislature
Nevada Senate during the 2019 Legislative Session. (Photo: April Corbin)

Nevada Republicans have flipped four seats in the Nevada State Legislature, stripping Democrats of their supermajority in the lower chamber and setting the stage for a messy 2021 legislative session.

Raising revenue requires a two-thirds majority from both houses of the Legislature in Nevada. Going into the 2020 general election, Democrats held that supermajority in the Assembly and were one senator shy of it in the Senate. However, once election results are certified, which is expected to happen Monday, Democrats will need multiple Republican lawmakers — specifically, two in each chamber — to support any proposals to raise revenue.

Raising revenue is seen by many lawmakers and advocates as necessary to offset expected budget shortfalls caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Nevada reduced its fiscal year 2020 and 2021 budgets by a combined $2 billion earlier this calendar year after the mandatory business shutdowns brought the economy to a screeching halt. During two back-to-back special sessions over the summer, Democrats attempted to raise taxes on lucrative mining companies but ultimately failed after Republican state Sen. Keith Pickard pledged to break with his party and support the measure but then reversed course and voted against it.

Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak told state agencies this month to prepare for additional budget reductions.

The Nevada GOP gained three seats in the assembly and one seat in the senate.

Former Assemblyman Richard McArthur, a Republican, won his District 4 seat in northwest Clark County back from Democratic Assemblywoman Connie Munk, who unseated him as part of the much vaunted blue wave in 2018.

Similarly, former Assemblywoman Jill Dickman, a Republican, won her District 31 seat in Washoe County back from Democratic Assemblyman Skip Daly. Dickman and Daly have run against each other for this seat four times, with her winning in 2014 and 2020 and him winning in 2016 and 2018.

McArthur and Dickman won this year by 5 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

Republican Andy Matthews unseated Democratic Assemblywoman Shea Backus in District 37 in northwest Clark County. Matthews is a former president of Nevada Policy Research Institute and also worked on Adam Laxalt’s failed 2018 gubernatorial campaign. Matthews defeated Backus by 657 votes — less than 2 percent of the total votes cast. Backus won the seat in 2018 by unseating Republican Jim Marchant.

The three GOP wins in the assembly will bring the Democratic majority to 26-16. The one flip in the Senate will bring the Democratic majority there to 12-9.

In State Senate District 5, Republican Carrie Buck edged out Democrat Kristee Watson by 329 votes — or just under half a percent. Buck received 32,740 votes to Watson’s 32,411 votes. Libertarian Tim Hagan received 2,007 votes — just under 3 percent. That district is currently represented by term-limited Democrat Joyce Woodhouse.

In State Senate District 6, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro held off her challenger, Republican April Becker. Cannizzaro secured 33,895 votes while Becker received 33,264. That’s a difference of 631 votes, or .94 percent of total votes.

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