Democrat Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen’s Seat Is in ‘Peril,’ As Race Moves From ‘Lean Dem’ to ‘Toss Up’ – RedState

Democrat Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen’s Seat Is in ‘Peril,’ As Race Moves From ‘Lean Dem’ to ‘Toss Up’ – RedState

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, has upgraded Nevada Democratic Senator Jacky Rosen’s re-election bid from being categorized as “Lean Democrat” and moved it into the “Toss Up” column, on Wednesday. This marks the fourth “Toss Up” race, with Nevada joining the ranks of swing states Arizona, Ohio, and Montana. The Cook analysis piece stated that this change, adding Rosen to the list of Democrat-held Senate seats “in peril” was made based on polling numbers, as well as unique factors in the Silver State. 

The other hotly contested seats with this designation include Arizona, where former Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is challenging progressive Rep. Ruben Gallego for the Senate seat currently held by now-independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who is not seeking re-election. 

Read: BREAKING: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Announces She’s Not Seeking Re-Election

In Ohio, incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is facing Republican businessman Bernie Moreno. And, in Montana, Democrat Sen. Jon Tester is seeking re-election against likely GOP nominee Tim Sheehy, who is backed by Trump and the Republican National Senatorial Committee. 

While the battleground state of Nevada went blue for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden in 2016 and 2022, respectively, voters elected a Republican governor, formerly the Clark County Sheriff, Joe Lombardo in ’22. This marked the only state that flipped the Governor’s seat from blue to red in what seemed to be a referendum on Democrats’ pandemic-era policies and the economic impacts in Nevada. That election also saw the tightest Senate race come from Nevada, in a contest where Democrat incumbent Catherine Cortez-Masto edged out Republican challenger, former NV Attorney General Adam Laxalt by a mere 0.77 percent. 

While Masto is considered a protege of the late Harry Reid, the former Majority Leader of the Senate, Jacky Rosen is fairly unknown to Nevada voters by comparison. The majority population of the state lives in Las Vegas, a city that is regarded as fairly transient, causing incumbents to constantly have to re-introduce themselves to voters. It poses an additional challenge.

In a statement made in response to the race’s rating change, Maggie Abboud, a spokeswoman for the Senate GOP campaign arm, blamed Joe Biden, saying,

Jacky Rosen is struggling to connect with Nevada voters because she can’t defend her record of rubber stamping Joe Biden’s policies that have caused higher prices, open borders, and out of control crime.

Rosen launched her first campaign ads, available in both English and Spanish, this week. These ads are strategically distancing Rosen from President Biden and the potential negative impact he might have in the state. In the primary ad, she highlights her independence by stating she has “stood up to [her] own party” on issues related to policing and border security. She also emphasizes her bipartisan credentials, citing her ranking as the ninth-most bipartisan senator, according to the Lugar Center at Georgetown.

Rosen will likely face Republican Captain (ret.) Sam Brown in the general election, who is leading in a field of a dozen GOP candidates. Brown is an Army veteran who received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star after being wounded by an IED in Afghanistan in 2008, suffering burns that left Brown disfigured. Brown previously ran for Senate in 2022, where he came in second in the primary behind Laxalt. Several prominent Republicans, including the National Republican Senatorial Committee, have already backed Brown.

A secondary contender has also emerged: Jeff Gunter, who is aligned with former President Donald Trump and served in his administration as Ambassador to Iceland. A fundraiser for Gunter was recently held at Mar-a-Lago. On Tuesday, Gunter’s campaign launched a  $3.3 million ad buy throughout Nevada ahead of the primary. The ad touts Gunter as “110 percent pro-Trump,” and is expected to run in radio and digital advertising formats, as well as via text messaging.

Recent polls have shown Rosen with a slight lead on Brown in a margin-of-error race. A poll conducted by Emerson College/The Hill/KLAS-TV from March 12-15 found Rosen leading Brown by two points, 41 percent to 39 percent, consistent with previous polling. Another survey by Arizona-based Noble Predictive Insights from Feb. 27 to March 5 showed a six-point margin, but Rosen’s 41 percent support was concerning, considering Brown’s potential for growth at 35 percent. Notably, both Gunter and the third-place GOP candidate Jim Marchant perform much worse against Rosen in these polls. 

Marchant is a former Nevada state Assemblyman who represented Assembly District 37 from 2016 to 2018. He lost his seat to Democrat challenger Shea Backus by a razor-thin margin of 135 votes in 2018. Marchant, who was an early pioneer in the internet and telecommunications industries, has suffered three consecutive general election losses starting in ’18, followed by a failed run for Congress in Congressional District 4 in 2020, as well as a bid supported by Trump for Secretary of State in 2022. 

A larger concern for Democrats is that polls consistently show Trump leading in the state, especially in a multi-candidate scenario. Nevada’s ballot option to choose “none of the above” further complicates this as seen in the narrow-margin ’22 Senate race where 1.2 percent of voters selected the “none” option. A Wall Street Journal poll released on Tuesday shows Trump with a four-point lead over Biden in Nevada.

Conceding that Brown may be a stronger candidate than Laxalt was and that Rosen appears weaker than Masto, Cook Report expressed that “unique forces” were in play in Nevada, writing, 

A combination of a newer electorate that Rosen must win over, Biden’s lagging numbers, and the unique post-COVID economic hangover in Nevada make this race a Toss Up.

Nevada’s primary will be held on June 11th. 

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