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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.

“The reality is this is a Republican district, so we expect to continue to see very strong support in fundraising and from the voter contact that we are doing and will continue to do,” Amodei spokesman Peter DeMarco said.

NRCC spokesman Tyler Houlton said that, with six weeks left, the GOP simply wants to highlight Marshall’s “failed leadership as Nevada’s top finance officer.”

In case there was any confusion about Marshall’s political party — because she failed to mention it in her first two TV ads launched last week — the NRCC’s ads both refer to Marshall only as “Democrat Kate Marshall.” The first ends with the word “Democrat” in bold and a picture of President Barack Obama with his arm around Marshall.

Both ads target Marshall’s stance as a fiscally responsible steward of the state’s treasury and tie her to the state’s “worst-in-the-nation” economy.

There is some back-and-forth arguing between the campaigns over the accuracy of an oft-repeated claim that Marshall “gambled away $50 million” of the state’s money by investing with Lehman Brothers. The Reno Gazette-Journal debunked the claim Monday.

As for Marshall, her messaging strategy illuminates what Democrats see as her path to victory. Marshall is going after the heart of Amodei’s base and is trying to spark interest among Washoe County Democrats in Reno at a time when voters aren’t usually focused on politics.

Republicans in this part of the state — pretty much everywhere outside metro Las Vegas — nearly sent Angle, a tea party favorite, to Congress five years ago and handed her the Senate nomination last year, Espinoza said. With that in mind, Marshall’s campaign is using every chance it has to paint Amodei as a supporter of tax increases and to produce doubt about him in the minds of conservatives in hopes of suppressing turnout for his base.

Marshall’s first two TV ads last week offered the messages the Marshall campaign wants voters to come away with: The Democrat represents sound fiscal decision-making based on her record as treasurer, and then-state Sen. Amodei in 2003 co-sponsored what would have been the largest tax increase in the state’s history. The campaign also plans to keep pushing the idea of protecting Medicare, a carryover from the messaging in Rep. Kathy Hochul’s (D-N.Y.) upset special election victory in a traditionally Republican district in May.

“In this election, voters have a clear choice between Marshall’s proven, steadfast financial management and Mr. Amodei’s reckless financial record,” Marshall spokesman James Hallinan said, a talking point similar to one used by the DCCC’s Jesse Ferguson.

While the NRCC’s entrance signaled a competitive race, insiders are still waiting to see whether Democratic groups jump in. House Majority PAC spokesman Ryan Rudominer said the Democratic super PAC “is keeping very close tabs on the race.”

Early voting begins Aug. 27, so voters will actually have about two weeks to get to the polls. While that will likely help boost turnout, who shows up when this race is the only thing on the ballot is anyone’s guess.

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