RGJ voter guide: Control of Congress is on the ballot this November in Nevada

Gun Rights

In November in Nevada, control of the U.S. House of Representatives is on the ballot.

Democrats hold a slim 222-to-213 lead in the lower chamber of Congress, meaning the Republican Party needs to flip just five blue seats to retake power of the 435-member chamber. 

National Republicans have identified at least 75 targets this year — three of which are in Nevada.

The Silver State has a total of four congressional seats, and candidates will be facing newly drawn districts on Nov. 8 for the first time in a decade:

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  • District 1 is in the heart of Las Vegas and includes chunks of Henderson and Boulder City. Longtime Rep. Dina Titus, the most liberal member of Nevada’s House delegation, faces a challenge from Republican Mark Robertson in a district that has become more competitive after the redistricting process added more Republican voters.
  • District 2 is Northern Nevada’s lone congressional district, covering Reno and Carson City. It is the state’s only reliably red district.
  • District 3 is considered one of the most competitive districts in Nevada. It includes a large swath of Spring Valley, a diverse area in Las Vegas, as well as portions of rural Clark County. After serving two terms in Congress, incumbent Democratic Rep. Susie Lee faces a tough road to re-election this year as she fights to keep her seat away from real estate lawyer April Becker, who unsuccessfully sued to overturn her loss for a state Senate seat in 2020, citing widespread voter fraud. 
  • District 4 is a young district that has flipped control since its creation in 2010, stretching from northern Clark County, including downtown Las Vegas, and into rural Nevada to include parts of Lyon and Lincoln counties and all of Nye, Mineral and Esmeralda counties. Incumbent Rep. Steven Horsford, a Democrat, faces a tough challenge from Republican hopeful Sam Peters, a U.S. Air Force veteran who promoted President Donald Trump’s debunked claims in 2020 that the election was rigged. 

“No Democrat is safe in this environment,” Tom Emmer, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, has said. 

In Northern Nevada, however, longtime GOP Rep. Mark Amodei appears safe in his reliably Republican district, which has never sent a Democrat to the U.S. Capitol.

Keep reading to learn more about Amodei’s vision for a seventh term in Congress and to learn about his Democratic challenger.

Rep. Mark Amodei

Amodei, 64, has represented Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District since 2011. He also served in the Nevada Assembly from 1996 to 1998, as well as the state Senate from 1998 to 2010. Prior to launching his political career, the lifelong Nevadan served in the U.S. Army from 1983 to 1987 and returned home after an honorable discharge to work as a lawyer in Carson City (1987-2004) and in Reno (2004-07). 

Education: Carson High School — Class of 1976; UNR — Class of 1980; McGeorge Law School, University of Pacific — Class of 1983

Previous offices held:

  • President of the Nevada Mining Association, 2007-08
  • Nevada Republican Party Chairman from May 2010 to May 2011, when he stepped down to pursue the Republican nomination for Congress
  • 117th Congress Committee Assignments: House Appropriations Committee
  • 117th Congress Subcommittee Assignments: Interior, Environment and Related Agencies; Financial Services and General Government; and Legislative Branch.
  • Caucuses: Congressional Western Caucus (Vice Chair), Army Caucus, Congressional Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, USO Caucus, Veterans Job Caucus, Public Broadcasting Caucus, Italian-American Caucus (Co-Chair), Congressional Cystic Fibrosis Caucus (Co-Chair), Conservative Climate Caucus, Postal Preservation Caucus, ALS Caucus.

Social media: Twitter | Facebook

Campaign site: amodeifornevada.com

Key endorsements: Nevada Republican Party; National Rifle Association; Public Safety Alliance of Nevada; Veterans in Politics International; National Right to Life; Nevada Right to Life; Liberty Watch Magazine; Power2Parent; U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Maggie’s List; House Republican Whip Steve Scalise; A+ rating from Nevada Firearms Coalition, Firearm Industry Trade Association and Susan B. Anthony List

What is the top issue facing Nevadans in your district today? Explain how you plan to address that issue if re-elected.

The top issue facing Nevadans today is the utter failure of the present Administration and the Democrat-controlled Congress, Governor, and State Legislature to deal with real issues impacting everyday citizens, rather than political agendas. These top issues include the war on energy, the attack on small businesses, woke and Green New Deal job-killing policies, absolute failure on the border and the growing fentanyl crisis, escalating crime in towns and cities, assaults on law enforcement, the debacle on the world stage on multiple fronts; including the devastating withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the failure of this President, Vice President, and Governor in dealing with the coronavirus in an objective and scientific way. Dealing with this if re-elected would be a complete and total about-face on the Biden Executive Order War and the House Democratic Majority’s ignorance with regard to the legislative process in dealing with government spending and other kitchen table issues.

What is the most significant accomplishment of your current term, and how can you build on your previous work if retained?

Take your pick. It has been a busy Congress in terms of being recognized by Nevada Broadcasters, the Farm Bureau, the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), and the National Firearm Industry Association (NSSF), and being endorsed by the NRA, National Right to Life, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Veterans In Politics International, and the Public Safety Alliance of Nevada, which represents nearly 100 law enforcement organizations and nearly 10,000 police officers throughout Nevada. I have run one of the most effective oversight operations on the Executive Branch, returned over $20 million dollars in benefits withheld by the federal government back to constituents through a robust, Nevada-first constituent services operation, aided in the evacuation of American allies from Afghanistan, and assisted veterans in receiving rightfully-earned treatments through the VA. On the Appropriations Committee, I have preserved funding for the construction of the Border Wall, border patrol, law enforcement, and the military. I also proudly voted for the Honoring Our PACT Act, which has been signed into law and will provide burn pit compensation for veterans. These are all things you earn every day, not a one hit and out. I believe this record of success is indicative of a pro-constituent, pro-Nevada focus each and every day.

Republicans have blamed high inflation on massive government spending. Do you stand by your vote for the CARES Act, and how do you plan to continue addressing inflation in Northern Nevada if retained by voters?

I have no problem with my vote for the CARES Act in March 2020 that provided states with the reasonable tools to deal with an unknown and unprecedented health emergency. However, under the Biden Administration, an additional $4.7 Trillion dollars in stimulus packages have been pursued by overwhelming Democratic support. For example, less than 9% of the nearly $2 Trillion-dollar “American Rescue Plan Act” went to coronavirus public health spending. The latest Biden Administration “victory” came with the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act,” which will provide funding for a new army of 87,000 additional IRS agents, funding for climate justice, and the expansion of Obamacare. This irresponsible spending by this Democratic-controlled White House and Congress has been a fundamental disruption to the economy, job market, and supply chain, and have been loaded up with woke, Green New Deal agendas which have hurt every middle class working American in the country and the pain will continue. While these political agendas may have allowed governors and elected officials attempts to buy votes, it is a short term, ill-conceived, and fundamentally harmful solution for keeping this country strong and prosperous. What will ensure American economic and national security is a prioritizing energy independence, eliminating woke environmental policies, reducing burdensome taxes, and encouraging innovation in the private sector to grow jobs and businesses.

What can Congress do to address housing affordability in your district?

If local governments in Nevada can get together on what they think a consensus lands package is, the most obvious first step is to provide federal lands in and around our cities and towns for real property on which to construct or whose sale proceeds can help pay for affordable projects. During my time in Congress, I have been successful in passing some of the largest reforms to Northern Nevada land holdings in over a decade, so I am confident that once again, Nevada leaders can come together with teamwork and collaboration to address these issues.

Elizabeth Mercedes Krause 

Elizabeth MercedesKrause, 46, is a longtime educator and union activist who describes herself as a “proud dual-citizen” of the Oglala, Lakota Nation and Nevada. “Representation matters,” she says, adding that she “aims to uplift the platform issues important to diverse communities, including the 18 of our state’s 27 tribal communities housed in CD2.” Her bid to unseat Amodei marks her first political campaign, although her background includes lobbying experience in Washington, D.C., “to support domestic diplomacy.” 

Years lived in Nevada: Born and raised in Nevada

Education: Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from University of Nevada, Las Vegas; master’s in Administrative Leadership with a focus on American Indian Education from Concordia; doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from UNLV in progress

Occupation: Educator

Previous offices held: N/A, but she currently serves on the Nevada Minority Affairs Commission, the Nevada Native Caucus, the Nevada State Education Association, the ACLU of Nevada and the state Democratic Party

Social media: Twitter | Instagram

Campaign website: mercedes4nevada.com

Key endorsements: National Education Association; Culinary Workers Union Local 226; SEIU; NEA; Nevada NOW; Plan Action; Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada; Nevada Rural Caucus; Northern Nevada Central Labor Council; Somos PAC; Rated A+ Strong Education Supporter by Nevada Democratic Education Caucus; Moms Demand Action, designated gun sense candidate; The Forward Party; The Oglala Lakota Nation and the following tribes: Duck Valley Shoshone Paiute Tribe, Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, Fort McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Tribe, Goshute Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Summit Lake Paiute Tribe, Walker River Paiute Tribe, Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, Yerington Paiute Tribe, and Ely Shoshone Tribe

Voters in Northern Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District have never sent a Democrat to the U.S. Capitol. Why should Nevadans elect you over your opponent?

Voters are smart. We recognize candidates who are there to vote for working people, to fix problems and make the community stronger. Mark Amodei’s voting record does not match his public statements and he has consistently voted against policies that would make Nevada stronger. I’m going to do my job – truly listening to and responding to all constituents, fulfilling a promise to show up to vote for Nevadans when in Congress, and putting in the work to bring in the funding we need for progress on the issues important to us all. Hyper-partisanship has gotten in the way of progress on issues we easily find common ground on as Nevadans – like improving our very low-ranking education system and the critically low access to mental health care services. We don’t have to agree on everything, no one ever does. But we must work together to make our state better.

I am not a politician. I won’t ever pretend to have the answers to everything. But I promise you that I will commit to always seeking the advice of people who have lived experience on the issues and those who have the experience and dedication needed to improve our lives. I will listen to the voices of those who are impacted by the decisions being made. We all need to be involved in building our communities from the ground up by focusing on grassroot issues that Nevadans are dealing with day to day, and I am the best candidate to support that cause.

What is the top issue facing Nevadans today? Explain how you plan to address it if elected.

I believe inflation is the top issue facing Nevadans today because it impacts all of our lives. It is my impetus to be here for every Nevadan by voting and allocating funding to make a life of dignity more accessible. Nevadans work hard for their money and deserve leaders who will fight to combat inflation, lower prescription drug costs, make healthcare more affordable for Nevada families, and support domestic energy production and manufacturing to help combat the climate crisis. I will work to bring federal dollars to Nevada to invest in training programs to prepare workers for high-quality jobs in fast-growing sectors like public health, child care, manufacturing, IT and clean energy. Anything that creates stronger economic opportunities, stronger communities, healthier Nevadans – that’s what I’m focused on. I come without prejudice on any issue.

Can you name a bill that your party passed during the current term that you disagreed with? Please elaborate.

While I don’t disagree with any one specific bill that has been passed during this current term, I believe that we must go further on certain issues and act with urgency. For example, the House recently passed the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022 which prohibits governmental restrictions on abortion services. I believe that Congress should have codified Roe v. Wade into law long before the recent Supreme Court ruling. Our legislators are now scrambling to protect a woman’s right to choose, and are facing an uphill battle in the Senate. Rather than being complacent, I believe that we must take swift action on protections for other fundamental rights such as marriage equality and the right to contraceptives.

Rio Lacanlale is the Las Vegas correspondent for the Reno Gazette Journal and the USA Today Network. Contact her at rlacanlale@gannett.com or on Twitter @riolacanlale. Support local journalism by subscribing to the RGJ today.

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