Despite early reports Gary Schmidt was slightly ahead of incumbent state Sen. Ben Kieckhefer in Carson City and close in the south Reno-capital district 16, Kieckhefer won in a walk Tuesday night, collecting double the number of votes cast for Schmidt.
Schmidt made a long list of charges that Kieckhefer was a RINO — Republican in Name Only — even accusing him of endorsing Sen. Harry Reid over Sharron Angle. Schmidt’s tactics didn’t work and, at press time, even though Washoe County tallies were far from final, Kieckhefer was leading 6,680-3,382.
Kieckhefer now moves on to face Democrat Michael Kelley and Independent American John Everhart in the November General Election. But he does so in a district that hasn’t elected a Democrat in recent memory.
Kieckhefer credited Republicans in the district for turning out at a rate he said was nearly 45 percent in a year when pundits said it would be much lower.
“I’m surprised, happy clearly,” Kieckhefer said of his victory margin. “One of the things I tried to talk to people about was being a good legislator and being able to get things done and I think I’ve proven that in my first term. I’m looking forward to having an even stronger voice in the process.”
If Republicans take control of the state Senate, Kieckhefer is the leading contender to chair the powerful Senate Finance Committee.