The GOP’s Mark Amodei easily defeated Democrat Kate Marshall and independent candidate Helmuth Lehmann, a political novice from Reno, to capture Nevada’s heavily Republican 2nd Congressional District seat Tuesday night.
Amodei will take the seat of former U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Carson City, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate in May after former U.S. Sen. John Ensign resigned following revelations of a sex scandal involving a former staffer.
Amodei, a former state senator, carried every county in the recession-ravaged state while amassing 58 percent of the vote in the special election. With 100% of the district’s 858 precincts reporting, Amodei unofficially received 74,976 votes to Marshall’s 46,669.
Marshall, who is serving her second term as state treasurer, conceded the race shortly after 9 p.m. Whatever suspense there might have been in the outcome vanished earlier in the evening as the first returns began trickling in.
A Democrat has never won Nevada’s 2nd congressional district since its creation following the 1980 census, though Democrat Jill Derby, a longtime member and chair of the state Board of Regents, came within five points of defeating Republican Dean Heller in 2006. She didn’t fare as well in a rematch two years later.
The margin of Amodei’s victory on Tuesday evening, therefore, came as little surprise in the heavily-Republican district.
“It’s like a dog returning to its vomit,” lamented a supporter of one of the losing candidates. “The people in this district keep rewarding those who are responsible for the economic mess we’re in.”
Nevada, which has long led the nation in foreclosures, reported the highest jobless rate in the country in July at a staggering 12.9 percent.
Making his first bid for public office, the little-known Lehmann — a refreshingly idea-oriented candidate who campaigned vigorously on a shoestring budget — made jobs and the economy the centerpiece of his campaign, including a bold initiative to create 50,000 jobs by constructing eight to ten solar zones, each encompassing 10,000-30,000 acres, in eastern and southern Nevada. He was also the only candidate in the four-cornered race who wanted to rescind the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.
Lehmann, a business consultant and “turn-around specialist” who poured his heart and soul into his long-shot quest for the state’s vacant congressional seat, polled 5,354 votes — more than doubling the 2,415 votes cast for perennial candidate Tim Fasano of the ultra-conservative Independent American Party, a longtime fixture in Nevada politics.
Impressively, Lehmann snared nearly 10 percent of the vote in sparsely-populated Pershing and Mineral counties.