CARSON CITY – There was a flurry of candidates filing for office and some political maneuvering today as Nevada’s 2012 election season officially got under way.
Another 17 filed with the Secretary of State’s office and others filed in their respective counties around the state.
U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who faces a strong challenge from Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., filed in Carson City for election to a full term in the Senate. He was appointed to the position in May by Gov. Brian Sandoval. Berkley is expected to file next week.
Dozens of other candidates filed on the first day of the two-week filing period, including Danny Tarkanian, a Republican who is seeking the newly created 4th Congressional District seat in portions of Clark County and rural Nevada.
And state Senate Republicans, looking to win back a majority in the 21-seat Senate for the 2013 legislative session, backed a new candidate for Senate District 9 in Clark County to replace Elizabeth Halseth, a Republican who resigned in mid-term.
Las Vegas physician Vick Gill, who had earlier this month announced as the GOP candidate for the seat, withdrew from the race, paving the way for third-generation Nevadan Mari Nakashima St. Martin to run for the seat instead.
Republicans need to hold on to the Senate 9 seat if they are to win the majority. Democrats have an 11-10 edge and are fielding a slate of candidates with the goal of maintaining control of the Senate for a third consecutive legislative session.
“I am running for the state Senate not just as a concerned citizen but as a new mom,” St. Martin said in announcing her candidacy. “I know our city, our state and many of the residents of the 9th district have seen some hard times in the last few years but I want my daughter to experience the opportunity and growth of the Nevada I knew growing up.”
St. Martin graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and currently works for a local small business as a sales and community outreach representative. Her past experience includes working as communication director for Congressman Joe Heck’s campaign, communication director for the Nevada Republican Party and as an aide in Washington, DC to Heller when he represented Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District.
Justin Jones, a Democrat, also filed for the Senate 9 seat today.
In a statement released on his filing, Tarkanian said a December poll shows him as the clear front-runner in a Republican primary for the seat and one who can beat expected Democrat candidate Steven Horsford, currently the state Senate majority leader. Several other Republicans, including state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, are expected to file as well. Cegavske has a major fund-raiser set for this Friday in Las Vegas and another tomorrow in Washington, DC.
“Nevada needs to refuel its economy through job creation, innovation and deregulation,” Tarkanian said. “By utilizing the resources Nevada has at her very fingertips, we can infuse new business into our economy and revitalize dormant industries; all while saving taxpayer dollars.”
The U.S. Senate race saw other candidates file as well today, including former university regent Nancy Price, a Democrat.
The primary election will be on June 12 to select one candidate from each party to appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. If only one candidate files from a party, that candidate automatically appears on the general election ballot.
The general election will see races from U.S. President on down to local Nevada races.