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For the Democrats, insiders repeatedly named state Sen. Ruben Kihuen and Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, who’s currently running for attorney general, as potential candidates for Congress — eventually.
Kihuen briefly intended to run in the 1st District in 2011 before bowing out. Sources said if Miller has a choice someday, he would prefer to run for governor over Congress.
State Treasurer Kate Marshall, a Democrat, and state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, are running for Nevada secretary of state. Both recently lost bids for Congress — Marshall in the 2nd District and Cegavske in 4th.
State Assemblywoman Lucy Flores currently serves in Las Vegas, and sources noted her ambition. But her path to Congress isn’t clear, given that Titus just picked up that district seat in 2012.
Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, could run for Senate eventually, a couple of party insiders said.
Nevada Republicans’ greatest impediment to toppling Reid is not their deep bench. It’s the state party’s infrastructure.
The Nevada GOP is one of the most dysfunctional state parties in the country. Supporters of former Texas Rep. Ron Paul have infiltrated much of the party’s infrastructure. Operations got so bad last year that the national GOP was forced to set up a shadow operation to compete in the state.
Democratic insiders said their state party looks to Reid as a bellwether who gives direction and rigidity to the party. But Nevada Republicans don’t have a similarly centralizing figure in the official party structure.
“Harry Reid has built a machine, ... a foundation for technical performance,” a Democratic operative said. “There isn’t an elected [Republican] official who pays much attention to party politics.”
The GOP will need discipline and organization to succeed as Nevada’s demographics continue to change.
After the 2010 census, the state gained another congressional district, thanks in part to a burgeoning Latino population. On the whole, Democrats have done better courting the Hispanic vote in the state.
Nevada “sure isn’t as red as it used to be,” an operative said, noting the increase in Latino voters.
Farm Team is a weekly, state-by-state look at the up-and-coming politicos who may eventually run for Congress.