Two leaders emerge for High Court
September 7, 2004
LAS VEGAS – Nevada voters signaled clear favorites Tuesday in the campaign to fill two state Supreme Court seats in November, but the choice of a second candidate in each primary race remained too close to call.
Chief Washoe County District Judge Jim Hardesty led with 44 percent in the Seat A primary.
Clark County Family Court Judge Cynthia “Dianne” Steel had 22 percent and Clark County Probate Commissioner Don Ashworth had 21 percent with 46 percent of votes counted statewide. Reno lawyer Kevin Mirch trailed with 4 percent.
For Seat E, Clark County District Judge Ron Parraguirre was the clear leader among four candidates, drawing 39 percent of the primary vote.
Lori Lipman Brown, a former state senator from Las Vegas, and entertainment lawyer John Mason of Reno, were tied at 19 percent. Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Doug Smith had 14 percent.
Judicial candidates are constrained from criticizing each other on issues they might be asked to rule on, and Parraguirre and Hardesty both said the election would hinge on candidates’ experience.
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“That’s what you have to get out to the voters,” Parraguirre said.
The seven-member court will have a new look after two of the state high court’s justices did not seek re-election and another died earlier this year.
The primary’s top two vote-getters for each seat will vie for six-year terms.
Also on the Nov. 2 ballot will be Justice Michael Douglas, the first black to serve on the Supreme Court in its 140-year history. Douglas, who was appointed this year to the seat held by the late Justice Myron Leavitt, is opposed by Las Vegas lawyer and Independent American Party activist Joel Hansen. No primary was needed with just two candidates, and the winner will serve the remaining two years of Leavitt’s term.