There are eight candidates in the crowded race for the Democratic nomination for the 4th Congressional District — three of whom have served in the Nevada Legislature. The incumbent is Republican Cresent Hardy.
The primary election is June 14 and early voting starts soon.
State Sen. Ruben Kihuen has the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, as well the backing of the Culinary union. In announcing for Congress he called Reid his mentor.
Kihuen immigrated from Mexico with his family and became a state assemblyman at the age of 25. He says his family came to this country in search of well-paying jobs, an education and home ownership, but, “Today Nevadans from all walks of life see the reality of that American dream slipping away. Families work harder for less. Everyday Americans can’t afford to send their kids to college. Women earn less for doing the same jobs as their male colleagues.”
He accuses congressional Republicans of serving the wealthy and elite who fund their campaigns.
Kihuen supports a $15 an hour minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, gun control, ObamaCare, comprehensive immigration reform and combatting climate change.
Former Assemblywoman Lucy Flores is running an aggressive campaign and has already launched television ads touting her progressive platform, which includes expanding Social Security, debt-free college, protecting women’s health, comprehensive immigration reform, gun control and LGBT rights. She has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood, NARAL, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy For America and MoveOn.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sent out an email in April urging his supporters to make donations to her campaign.
“In Congress, I will focus on investing in our workforce and our future,” Flores says in her campaign literature. “I will fight, as I always have, for an increase in the minimum wage and to hold down health care costs. I will fight for small businesses and fight to bring good paying jobs with benefits to Nevada. I know that the jobs of the future require strong schools for our children and access to affordable debt-free college education.”
She earned her law degree at UNLV Boyd School of Law. She freely talks about having an abortion at the age of 16.
Candidate Morse Arberry Jr. of North Las Vegas served in the Assembly from 1984 to 2010, when he was term limited.
In 2011 Arberry pleaded guilty to fraudulent misappropriation for depositing $120,000 in campaign contributions into his personal bank account. Arberry’s deal dropped six felony counts and he agreed to pay the state the money he pocketed and a $1,000 fine. He was given a six-month suspended prison sentence.
When he announced for Congress in March, the Las Vegas newspaper reported that he still owes the state $121,545 from the 2011 plea bargain.
Arberry, who has an MBA from UNLV, retired from a job with the city of Las Vegas after 25 years. He was criticized in 2001 for drawing sick leave pay from his city job while serving in the Legislature.
When she announced a year ago that she was contemplating filing for Congress, Susie Lee was described as a Las Vegas philanthropist and community leader but a political novice. Her campaign describes her as having dedicated the majority of her adult life to improving the lives of Nevada’s neediest children, women, and homeless families.
Lee is the head of the Communities in Schools of Nevada, which is described as the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization. She also is a founding member and past president of Nevada’s Women’s Philanthropy and has served on numerous boards, committees and task forces, including the Guinn Center and the Lincy Institute.
She supports ObamaCare, increasing the minimum wage, paid family leave, LGBTQ rights and equal pay for equal work.
“As your congresswoman, I pledge to have a guiding principle that puts the economic mobility of ordinary families and citizens first,” Lee says. “For too long, many government policies make it harder for the middle class to get ahead. The economy within the home is most critical and Congress can do more to help working families in their struggle to regain the ground they lost in the recession and to manage their work-life balance.”
Dan Rolle moved to Nevada in 2009 to start a wireless broadband service and serve as a small business consultant. He touts his business experience by saying, “Unlike many of my opponents, I know what it is like to be in the signing side of a paycheck. I’ve had years of leadership and executive experience and I know what it is like to have to make a decision that affects someone’s ability to feed their family.”
Also unlike most of his Democratic opponents, he calls the $15 an hour minimum wage short-sighted and says he will focus on creating high tech clean energy jobs. He was critical of the Public Utilities Commission for raising connections fees and cutting the rates paid for rooftop solar power uploaded to the grid and said he would work with the governor to overturn the decision.
Rolle favors a single payer health care system, would work to overturn the Citizens United court decision that allows unions and corporations to spend money on election campaigns, expand the use of solar power and end deportations and create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. But mostly he is about high tech solutions.
Where perennial candidate Mike Schaefer parts company with other Democrats is his strong support for opening a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. He says it will create thousands of jobs and generate income for Nevadans.
“Yucca Mountain is the most studied land in the world and its radiation level is far-less exposure than having a dentist’s X-ray,” Schaefer writes. “For 50 years nuclear waste from military activity has been on Americas highways en route to existing New Mexico nuclear storage without any incidents or hazards. Modern technology assures our safety and we all deserve a bonanza like all Alaskans get for use of their oil fields ($2,000 in 2015).”
Also unlike other Democrats, he says the federal government controls too much public land in Nevada and there should be periodic public auctions at which that land is sold and put on the tax rolls.
Schaefer moved to Nevada in 1972 and, though he has a law degree from Georgetown University, he has been disbarred from practicing law in Nevada. He served on the San Diego City Council before coming to Nevada and has since run unsuccessfully for numerous offices.
He was kicked off the Democratic primary ballot for state controller in 2014 because he did not meet a two-year state residency requirement, since he voted in California in 2012.
North Las Vegas resident Rodney Smith highlights his 26-year Air Force career as the experience that qualifies him to serve in Congress. The first priority the Purple Heart recipient lists on his website is working for active duty military personnel, veterans and their families. “No veteran should wait for the benefits they’ve earned and deserve,” he writes.
He vows to improve education by focusing on an all inclusive curriculum, rebuild the nation’s infrastructure with a WPA-style program, make Nevada the capital of solar power, help minority-owned businesses revitalize their communities, fight for fair and equitable pay and support collective bargaining rights.
Smith also vows to shut down private prisons, reduce recidivism and cut the number of people incarcerated by half.
Brandon Cassut of Las Vegas, a licensed pilot, says he represented his church in Japan for two years, where he learned to speak fluent Japanese. Upon returning to the U.S. he became vice president of foreign affairs for a small airline company. He is the president and owner of B.J.C. Enterprises.
He wants to protect our families and provide for their health and educational needs. He supports accessible and affordable health care and calls for cutting the cost of medicine.
The district includes part of northern Clark County, the southern part of Lyon County and all of White Pine, Nye, Mineral, Esmeralda and Lincoln counties.