Jim Hartman: Senate race: Democrat Rosen vs. 13 Republicans

Jim Hartman

Jim Hartman

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Nevada’s junior Democratic U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, faces a tough re-election in November.

With the close of filing for the June 11 primary, 13 Republican challengers have entered the race to oppose her.

In 2022, Nevada had the closest Senate race in the country with Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto eking out a 7,928 win over Republican Adam Laxalt.

This year holding Rosen’s seat is a top priority for Democrats who have a slim 51-49 Senate majority. Nevada is a battleground state and a target for Republicans.

Rosen’s political profile is much less visible than that of Cortez Masto, Nevada’s senior senator.

In 2016, Rosen was politically unknown when then-Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid recruited her to run for Congress. She was a computer programmer and served as president of Ner Tamid congregation, Nevada’s largest Jewish synagogue.

She narrowly defeated Republican Danny Tarkanian for a Las Vegas-area House seat.

Six months into her term in the House, Rosen announced a bid for the Senate in 2018, with Reid clearing the field of any primary opponents.

She won an unexpected five-point victory over incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller.

Rosen advertises herself as one of the most bipartisan senators in the country. However, she voted with President Biden’s position 92.5 percent of the time in the 2021-22 Congress.

When Rosen touts her record, it’s almost exclusively the work she has done with Biden. She said she would happily campaign with him.

Biden is unpopular in Nevada. The most recent RCP polling average finds he would lose the state to Donald Trump by 3%.

Rosen has reported record fundraising.

As of Dec. 31, federal campaign reports show Rosen raised $19.3 million with $10.6 million cash on hand.

Republicans are likely to nominate Sam Brown. Brown is a West Point graduate and veteran of the war in Afghanistan earning a Purple Heart. He’s the great-grandson of NFL legend Paul Brown, Cincinnati Bengals’ founder.

Brown ran a spirited grassroots Senate primary campaign in 2022 against Laxalt, losing 56% to 34%.

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, recruited Brown to run again in 2024. The retired U.S. Army captain has NRSC support and backing from Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo.

Brown also reported record fundraising. He had raised about $3 million total with $1.7 million cash on hand, according to federal campaign reports through 2023. That amount was more than the total raised by his 12 GOP rivals combined.

Far-right perennial candidate Jim Marchant is running. He lost for State Assembly (2018); lost for Congress (2020); and, lost for Secretary of State (2022).

Marchant reported raising $345,000 and had $58,000 on hand.

Jeff Gunter, a wealthy dermatologist and a former Trump-appointed U.S. ambassador to Iceland, is a candidate. He, like Marchant, has warmly embraced Trump and has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to him.

Gunter had a rocky tenure as a diplomat. And, while claiming to reside in Nevada, voter records show he last voted in 2018, in California.

He reported raising $407,000 in 2023 with $29,000 on hand.

Gunter might be a wild card in the race if he self-funds his campaign with a couple of million dollars and wins Trump’s endorsement. That’s highly unlikely with many Trump followers already supporting Brown.

Tony Grady, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in 2022, has made a favorable impression on grassroots Republicans but has failed to connect with donors.

Grady raised $165,000 in 2023 and had $57,000 on hand.

The other nine GOP candidates in the field report cash on hand of $8,000 or less.

The most recent RCP polling average finds Rosen with a 4% lead over Brown, 41% to 37%, with 22% undecided.

Expect an expensive, neck and neck Senate race in November.

E-mail Jim Hartman at lawdocman1@aol.com.


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