Heller with solid lead, Derby won’t quit until Washoe vote comes in | NevadaAppeal.com

Heller with solid lead, Derby won’t quit until Washoe vote comes in

Carson City’s Dean Heller appeared on his way to his second term in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

But with a large portion of the Washoe County vote still outstanding, Democrat Jill Derby wasn’t prepared to give up yet.

Derby held a roughly 1,500-vote lead in Washoe and a 3,000 vote lead in the small portion of Clark County when the early vote totals were posted. But Heller’s overwhelming support in Carson City ” his home since childhood ” and the other nine rural counties that make up the district, put him solidly ahead from the time the polls closed.

The Clark County lead held up late into the evening, although it shrunk to just 1,000 votes by press time.

But the Washoe County results slowed after early voting was posted. That county is where Derby has the best chance of overturning Heller’s rural support since it is home to the largest block of voters in Congressional District 2.

With Washoe coming in slowly, Heller’s lead grew from 11,000 at 8 p.m. to more than 18,000 as of 11 p.m. because of the same strong rural support that put Heller in office two years ago.

Throughout most of those rural counties, his margin was at least two to one over Derby.

It was a much better showing than two years ago when, despite a 48,000 Republican registration advantage, Heller won by less than 10,000 votes.

Derby’s best hope was that Washoe voters, who gave Barack Obama a margin of more than 25,000 as of press time, also voted for her.

“We’re not giving up hope yet,” said Derby spokeswoman Kristen Cullen. “We’re waiting for Washoe.”

Unless that support materializes, Heller appeared on his way doubling his 2006 victory margin in a district that is now nearly even in registration.

Neither Heller nor his campaign spokesman returned calls seeking comment on the race.

The campaign two years ago drew praise from observers ” especially Derby’s effort. This year’s campaign, however, was much more negative, with Heller accusing Derby of being the biggest waster of tax dollars during her 18 years on the Board of Regents, and Derby charging that Heller backed the Bush administration and voted for big oil and other special interests more than 90 percent of the time.

– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.