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NRCC’s Nevada Buy Signals Competitive Race

Bill Clark/Roll Call
Nevada Treasurer Kate Marshall and her rival for the special election, former state Republican Chairman Mark Amodei, are laser-focused on fiscal issues as they stump ahead of the Sept. 13 contest.

For Democrat Kate Marshall to win next month’s Nevada special election, several things will need to fall in place.

The state treasurer must energize Washoe County’s Democrats, reach out to independents and Republicans and hope some Republicans sit out the election — and former state GOP Chairman Mark Amodei might need to trip up, according to insiders.

But however long Marshall’s odds might be in a regularly scheduled election in this historically Republican district, the race is rattling nerves enough that the National Republican Congressional Committee has dropped a sizable independent expenditure on two TV ads and has spent money on a coordinated ad with Amodei.

Even in a district known for high turnout, both parties can only wonder how many people will hit the polls for a Sept. 13 contest to replace Republican Dean Heller, who was appointed to former Sen. John Ensign’s seat. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) last year showcased the strong field operation he’s built along with the state party, but he still trailed GOP challenger Sharron Angle by almost 20,000 votes outside Clark County. In an area where Democrats are generally moderate, there are 30,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats in the 2nd district, with about 63,000 nonpartisan voters.

“She’s going to have to run an aggressive field campaign, but she’s also going to have to run a strong message to either win over Republican voters or convince them to stay home,” Democratic strategist Ed Espinoza said.

The Marshall campaign is focusing on its ground game and raising money to stay on the air. Volunteers have made 75,000 voter contacts through phone calls and canvassing so far, and the campaign received 1,000 donations already from this week’s fundraising email.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has yet to spend any money there, and a spokesman who wouldn’t say if that would change only suggested the NRCC expenditures amount to “pushing the panic button.” But other outside Democratic groups are closely watching the race, and some observers expect them to jump in. EMILY’s List, a campaign organization devoted to electing Democratic women who favor abortion rights, has a fundraising portal for Marshall at the top of its website.

“I think she needs a Mark Amodei mistake,” Reno-based GOP consultant Robert Uithoven said. Contrasting her record with Amodei’s is “not going to be enough,” he said.

Marshall finished the second quarter with more than twice as much money as Amodei. Despite the NRCC stepping in to pay for ads, the Amodei campaign and Republicans in Washington said rumors of a cash-flow problem are overblown.

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