July 30, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

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.

On top of the female candidates running for the House and Senate, Las Vegas voters are picking between two women in the mayoral runoff on June 7: Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani and the wife of the current mayor, Carolyn Goodman.

“I think the field for female candidates is excellent. There’s no question we’re going to have a female mayor — the second in the history in the state,” former Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones (D) said. “You’ve got some really interesting, intelligent, committed, resilient female candidates in Nevada. You have to be resilient anywhere in politics, but particularly in Nevada.”

State Controller Kim Wallin has also been mentioned as a potential candidate for Congress, although she did not return a request for comment about her interest.

The 2012 landscape in Nevada hasn’t yet been settled, as state lawmakers are wrangling over redistricting. Last month, Republicans proposed their own Congressional map that they said created two districts favorable to Democratic candidates, one competitive district and one competitive district that leans GOP.

However, the Democratic-controlled Legislature took the first steps Saturday to pass its own plan that gives the party an advantage in three of the newly drawn House districts and leaves the GOP with a single-digit edge in the 2nd House district.

Two of the best-known Democrats in the Nevada, state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford and Speaker John Oceguera, are looking at running in at least two of those districts. However, other Democrats in Nevada are also hoping that either of the special election candidates, Derby or Price, will step aside and run for a full term in one of the new House districts, depending on how the new map looks.

A state legislative committee passed the Democratic plan over the weekend and, if passed by both chambers, it will head to the desk of Gov. Brian Sandoval (R). If he were to veto the plan, the battle over Nevada’s map probably would end up in court.

Despite its current prospects, Nevada does not have a particularly high proportion of female state lawmakers: 28.6 percent of state legislators are women, which ranks 10th in the country, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at the State University of New Jersey.  

However, EMILY’S List’s Schriock, a Montana native, chalked up women’s success in the West in part to the political tradition of the states, which have a strong history of supporting female candidates dating to 1917, when Rep. Jeannette Rankin (R-Mont.) became the first woman ever elected to Congress.

“Our Western states have always tended to support women early on,” Schriock said. “That spirit is still very much alive in the West.”

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