A pair of well-financed Republican challengers were trying to unseat Democrats in key swing congressional districts in southern Nevada as the election dragged into Wednesday. Veteran incumbents from each party cruised to victory as expected in the other two districts covering northern Nevada and the Las Vegas Strip.
Republican Rep. Mark Amodei defeated Democratic challenger Patricia Ackerman Tuesday to claim a sixth term in the sprawling, largely rural 2nd District where no Democrat has ever won.
Democratic Rep. Dina Titus, the dean of Nevada's congressional delegation, claimed a fifth term in a rematch with Republican Joyce Bentley in the 1st District, the most urban in the state.
The other House races were too early to call, with a large number of ballots yet to be counted and fewer than 7,000 votes separating the candidates in either contest.
Democratic Rep. Susie Lee had a slim lead as she tried to fend off Republican Dan Rodimer, a former professional wrestler, in the 3rd District race that is Nevada’s closest and most expensive.
President Donald Trump won that district in 2016 despite losing Nevada statewide to Hillary Clinton by 2.4 percentage points. Preliminary returns showed Democrat Joe Biden leading Trump in Nevada early Wednesday.
Lee's campaign said in a statement just before midnight she was pleased with returns that showed her leading so far but that it was premature to claim victory.
"While we know everyone is anxious to get results, we will patiently wait for every vote to be counted. With the majority of votes in, we feel confident that Susie Lee will maintain her current lead, and is in a strong position to win re-election to Congress,” the statement said.
Rodimer's campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment early Wednesday.
The secretary of state’s office said it planned to update results later Wednesday but had no way to know how many ballots still may arrive by mail. Any post-marked by Election Day will be accepted through Nov. 10.
Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford had a slight lead over former GOP state legislator Jim Marchant in the 4th District. A mix of urban and rural areas, it leans Democrat but has been competitive since the Legislature created it in 2011.
Horsford, a former longtime state senator, became the first African American to represent Nevada in Congress when he won the seat in 2012 but lost his re-election bid in 2014. He recaptured the seat two years ago.
Based on the final fundraising reports in late October, he had outspent Marchant $2.25 million to $1.2 million.
Amodei has never faced a serious threat in the 2nd District that was created in 1982 and includes Reno, Carson City and Elko. It’s the only one of Nevada’s four congressional seats currently held by a Republican.
Titus said she was “humbled” to be reelected in the district she's represented since 2012.
“Southern Nevadans are hurting badly right now and I will do everything in my power to provide relief,” said the former state senator and university professor, who spent nearly one-half million dollars while her opponent reported raising no money.
Lee, seeking her second term, spent more than $4.2 million. Rodimer countered with $2.2 million and in recent months outraised Lee.
Lee said during the campaign that she had to think long and hard before voting to impeach Trump earlier this year and knew it would be used against her during the race. The 6-foot-7 Rodimer has said that he wants “to take a folding chair to the Washington D.C. establishment.”
That district stretches from California southwest of Las Vegas through Henderson and Boulder City to the Arizona line.
At a south Las Vegas polling place last week, 46-year-old Ian McMullin, a lifelong Republican and voice actor, cast an early vote for Rodimer based in large part to his animosity toward the Democratic speaker of the U.S. House.
“It’s as much as against Nancy Pelosi as it has anything to do with Dan Rodimer and Susie Lee,” McMullin said.
Joann Sulker-Hall, a 65-year-old lifelong Democrat, said she decided to vote for Lee after seeing Democratic campaign ads highlighting 911 calls Rodimer’s now-wife made in 2018 alleging domestic violence and that Rodimer had stolen guns and jewelry belonging to her, according to police records. Police did not arrest or detain Rodimer in either case and no charges were filed in either incident.
His wife steadfastly defended him during the campaign and accused Democrats of being misleading.
Sulker-Hall said she would have considered crossing party lines to vote for Rodimer but said, “I saw all of the ads I guess regarding Rodimer and I was just concerned.”