RENO, Nev. (AP) — The establishment-backed Republican candidate for Nevada’s most competitive congressional district is dropping out of the race to defend her current seat in the state Assembly, she announced Thursday.
Heidi Kasama said she would focus on ending the Democratic supermajority in the Assembly rather than aiming for a seat in Washington. Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo’s veto power would be significantly diminished in the next legislative session if Republicans are a superminority both in the Assembly and in the Senate, where Democrats are one seat shy of the override margin.
“I could not imagine myself in Washington, DC trying to fix Congress if Governor Lombardo faced veto-proof majorities in both chambers at home in Nevada,” Kasama said in a statement. “Any such victory would be a hollow one.”
The surprise decision leaves conservative policy analyst Drew Johnson, who lost a race for the Clark County Commission by 336 votes, and former state Sen. Elizabeth Helgelien as the two Republicans vying to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Susie Lee, who was reelected last year by 4 percentage points over Republican April Becker. Both Johnson and Helgelien had raised significantly less money than Kasama.
The 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City and unincorporated Clark County, has long been considered Nevada’s most competitive. Democrats have a slight edge in active registered voters, though independents make up the largest voting bloc in the district.
Kasama said in the statement that the decision to defend her Assembly seat came after discussions with both Lombardo and her family. Lombardo endorsed her moments after she announced that she would again campaign in the state’s 2nd Assembly District.
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, who is chair of the Nevada State Democratic Party, said in a statement that the move “makes it clear how worried extreme Republicans are about the strength of Susie Lee’s campaign.”
Kasama will face off in her Assembly primary against Clark County GOP Chair Jesse Law, who was indicted over his role as a “fake elector” for then-President Donald Trump following the 2020 election. He announced his candidacy last month, hours before he was indicted by the state attorney general.
Law, who has pleaded not guilty, faces felony charges that would bring between one and four or five years in prison, respectively.