We Held a Primary, and Nobody Came

Making sense of Tuesday’s lackluster election

Cresent Hardy scored 43 percent of the vote in the District 4 Republican primary.

Cresent Hardy scored 43 percent of the vote in the District 4 Republican primary.

When fewer than 20 percent of registered voters bother to turn out, as happened during Tuesday’s Nevada primary, the only obvious conclusion is that apathy has triumphed over activism. But there are a few conclusions observers of state and local politics can draw from this week’s results.

In District 4, GOP Candidate’s Mandate Is Slim

Mike Monroe ran in the GOP primary in House District 4, providing next to no information about himself; he doesn’t own the house he lists as his address. Yet he still got 22 percent of the vote, compared with Cresent Hardy’s 43 and Niger Innis’s 33. Considering the latter’s attacks against each other, voters may have just decided to vote for the next name they saw other than theirs. All of which suggests that while Steven Horsford will campaign hard for reelection, he won’t develop worry lines, because even Republicans aren’t thrilled with his opponent.

Waffling May Have Hurt Lowden

Gov. Sandoval-backed Mark Hutchison easily defeated Sue Lowden in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor, with Lowden running as the true right-winger. Yes, Hutchison’s side assailed her for having given money to Harry Reid. But that wasn’t the only thing that hurt the candidate’s conservative credentials: As recently as 2010, Lowden was the left-leaning Republican who wasn’t good enough for Sharron Angle and her Tea Party brigade, who resented her behavior when she chaired the party convention and kept them out of power. One wonders whether Lowden ran into one of the many problems that helped defeat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor: ham-handed attempts at shape-shifting in hopes of appealing to different parts of the electorate.

Schneider Defeat Puts Egg on Face of Unions

In all three county commission races in which they participated, Constable John Bonaventura and his allies lost big. The most interesting county commission primary, however, was Susan Brager’s race, where former state senator Mike Schneider—who had name recognition, ample experience and support from those Brager has annoyed—mustered just over 20 percent of the vote. When only 6,511 voted in that race, that hardly gives Brager a mandate. But Schneider’s supporters included organized labor, with the SEIU’s website saying, “SEIU Nevada’s most critical electoral goal in 2014 is electing Mike Schneider.” Labor doesn’t look good after that result.

Sheriff’s Race Shaping Up to Be Interesting

In the sheriff’s race, Joe Lombardo, who has the support of former sheriff Bill Young and the current administration, ran just eight points ahead of Larry Burns, backed by Young’s predecessor Jerry Keller. Lombardo appeared to have been much more active and ultimately didn’t stomp his opposition. That could make the general election all the more interesting, especially if this becomes a more partisan race: Lombardo tends to have stronger Republican support, while Burns appeals more to Democrats.