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In Nevada, an Abundance of Feminine Riches

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Rep. Shelley Berkley is one of several high-profile women running for higher office in Nevada.

For a state that is so proud of its showgirls, there could be a lot of women on the ballot in Nevada this cycle.

“Nevada is kind of schizophrenic when it comes to its attitude towards women. You’ve got pictures of girls — no ifs, ands or buts — and legalized prostitution, and you’ve got women in the Legislature,” said former Rep. Dina Titus (D), who is expected to run for Congress again this cycle. “There are opportunities for women here in politics.”

Historically, redistricting has provided additional opportunities for female candidates because of the large number of open-seat races that come with a new map, but nowhere is that more the case than in the Silver State, where, because of a new House district, a Senate race and an upcoming special election, Democrats have the potential to fill the Congressional ballot with women.

The stakes are particularly high for EMILY’s List in Nevada, where several of its long-supported candidates are pondering or running for office in 2012.

“I think right now, looking here at ’12, Nevada is the shining star in our potential recruitment — once the lines are drawn, of course,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in a phone interview.

In fact, the large number of female candidates might be too much of a good thing for the organization that supports Democratic, pro-abortion-rights contenders. A few of its favorite names from the past are mulling bids in the same district.

In the Sept. 3 special election to fill newly appointed Republican Sen. Dean Heller’s former House seat, there are already three Democratic women running — state Treasurer Kate Marshall and former House candidates Jill Derby and Nancy Price — the first two of whom have been endorsed by EMILY’s List in past races.

Marshall is the best-known of the crop of female candidates in the free-for-all special election, and Democrats hope she can clear the field before the May 25 filing date.

Local Republicans have filed a lawsuit charging that only candidates officially nominated by party committees can run on that party’s ticket in the special contest.

Additionally, Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) is running for Senate against Heller with EMILY’s List’s backing.

Titus is also expected to run in one of the newly drawn House seats in the Las Vegas area — what she called a “new, more centrally located district” — instead of running against Rep. Joe Heck (R), who defeated her last cycle. 

“I will not officially be declaring until the lines are drawn,” Titus said. “I think the new district will be part of Shelley’s old district and part of my old district.”

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