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How Will Investigation Affect Shelley Berkley’s Race?

John Locher/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Associated Press

Berkley’s Clark County base will likely account for more than two-thirds of the general election vote. Her ability to attract voters beyond that base has been the focus of the race thus far, and every Republican in the state reached Tuesday said they think this development will hinder her ability to make inroads in Northern Nevada.

“I don’t think anyone thinks the race is over, but this is a pretty significant blow to Berkley,” GOP consultant Ryan Erwin said. “It won’t be easy for her to introduce herself to new voters with an official Congressional investigation under way.”

Berkley has already run weeks of ads in Washoe County, one of three counties Reid won in his highly targeted 2010 re-election race. Reid also racked up a huge win in Clark County that year, though few observers on either side expect Berkley to replicate those feats.

“The key for Democrats running statewide is to try to keep that Washoe County loss margin as small as possible, and this won’t help,” Reno-based GOP consultant Robert Uithoven said.

The committee’s formation of an investigative subcommittee postponed the release of a detailed report prepared by the ethics office that could shed light on the extent to which Berkley’s financial interests diverged from the needs of her constituents. One Democratic strategist noted that any other outcome Monday that resulted in a report being released could have offered Republicans even more ammo for ads, even if taken out of context, and that Monday’s announcement really changed little.

“Last week this story was that the ethics committee is looking into it,” the strategist said. “Today, the day after they came out with their decision, the story is still that they are looking into it.”

But with the Congresswoman from Las Vegas now running statewide, Republicans maintained this can only help Heller.

“I can think of a lot better ways for Shelley Berkley to introduce herself to voters,” longtime GOP consultant Jim Denton said.

Amanda Becker contributed to this report.

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