Nevada's Third District, encompassing a large swath of Clark County and the Las Vegas suburbs, saw one of the closest races in the country in 2006, as Republican incumbent Jon Porter barely fended off Democrat Tessa Hafen, a former press secretary to Senator Harry Reid. Porter ultimately won by less than 4,000 votes, picking up 48% of the vote to Hafen's 47%.
Given the heartbreakingly narrow margin of victory for Porter in 2006, as well as the district's very slight Democratic lean (PVI of D+1), NV-03 was one of the top targets for Democrats coming into this cycle. After Hafen opted against a rematch, the DCCC ultimately recruited Clark County prosecutor Robert Daskas into the race.
Daskas performed quite well for a time; he had over $450,000 on hand as of last notice, and he had already made the DCCC's Red to Blue list this cycle.
Unfortunately, it appears that Daskas has suddenly decided to drop out of the race. From the Daskas campaign:
Citing family considerations, Robert Daskas has announced his decision to withdraw his candidacy for Nevada’s Third Congressional District. The Daskas campaign has every confidence that another strong, viable candidate will enter the race and unseat incumbent Jon Porter. Daskas thanks everyone for their support and asks supporters to stay focused on the common goal of changing our representative in the Third Congressional District. Democrats now hold a 22,500 voter registration advantage over Republicans in the district.
It appears that another relatively strong Democratic contender has stepped in: State Senate Minority Leader and 2006 gubernatorial nominee Dina Titus. According to The Politico, Titus, whom the DCCC attempted to recruit prior to turning to Daskas, is prepared to run:
Democrats have already recruited a new candidate, Nevada Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, who may announce as soon as tomorrow that she's entering the race. Titus has statewide name recognition, and Democrats hope that she can raise enough money quickly to challenge Porter in November.
"Dina Titus would be an excellent candidate with unparalleled experience and support from people in Nevada's 3rd congressional district," DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). "Her vision, strength, and ability to get things done for Nevada would make her a powerful voice for change."
As previously mentioned, Titus ran for governor in 2006, and has high name recognition from that run. Her 2006 performance was OK, not great, particularly in a strongly Democratic year; she lost to current governor Jim Gibbons, 48% to 44%, despite a Gibbons scandal shortly before the election. Gibbons has not been a very popular governor to this point, so Titus might benefit from some buyer's remorse with regard to Gibbons in this run.
The DCCC seems to like her for this race, and she's certainly a high-profile candidate with good name recognition and fundraising ability. It remains to be seen whether that will be enough to defeat Porter, especially given her late start. Porter's sitting on over a million dollars right now, and she has six months to take him down.
We're still in decent shape in NV-03, a swing district within a swing state which has enjoyed an uptick in Democratic registration, and we're lucky to have a credible replacement on hand and ready to go. Still, it's unfortunate to lose a candidate with a relatively short time to go before November.
I must say, though, that with this coming on the heels of the presidential caucus troubles, it has already been an exceptionally interesting political year in Clark County, and with both this House seat and the state's electoral votes hanging in the balance, things only promise to get more exciting as the year goes on.