CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada politicians are loading their campaign coffers with millions in contributions in preparation for next year's midterm elections, setting the stage for a costly election year with advertising bombarding television, radio, social media and mailboxes.
Races to represent the Western swing state in Washington, D.C., are expected to be hotly contested, including the race for U.S. Senate and two of the state's four U.S. House seats.
U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto raised $3.1 million in campaign contributions over the past three months, giving her $8.3 million cash on hand. Her haul equips her with more funds heading into the final stretch of 2021 than all but three battleground state candidates — Sens. Raphael Warnock, D-Georgia, Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Mark Kelly, D-Arizona.
Cortez Masto, who won in 2016 by 2.4 percentage points, is expected to face a tough reelection campaign next year, but she convincingly out-raised the Republicans hoping to unseat her and give the GOP a majority in the evenly split chamber. She spent $1.4 million from July to September on expenses including consulting, mail ads and polling.
Former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who entered the race halfway through the quarter, raised $1.4 million, while army veteran Sam Brown raised $1 million from July to September. Laxalt spent $151,000 on campaign consultants, travel and advertising, ending the quarter with $1.3 million cash on hand. Brown spent $368,000, including tens of thousands on mail ads. He ended the quarter with $656,000.
The four incumbents running for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives outpaced their challengers in contributions over the quarter. But the boundaries defining their districts could potentially change when state lawmakers redraw districts later this year.
In Nevada's blue leaning 1st Congressional District, which encompasses the Las Vegas Strip, fifth-term Democrat Dina Titus reported $196,000 in campaign contributions and ended the quarter with $605,000 cash on hand. She amassed almost double the amount that progressive challenger Amy Vilela has raised since July.
Vilela, whose candidacy in the 4th Congressional District's 2018 primary was profiled in the Netflix documentary “Knock Down the House,” raised $103,000 on contributions and spent $111,000 over the three-month period. The two are set to face off in Nevada's June 2022 primary.
In Nevada’s reliably red 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Mark Amodei is the only candidate to report campaign contributions. After winning reelection to the northern Nevada seat by 15.8 percentage points in 2020, Amodei raised $119,000 in contributions and spent $65,000 over the quarter, ending September with $368,000 cash on hand.
Amodei has said he's mulling a run for Nevada governor and told The Associated Press he plans to make a final decision by the end of October.
Federal law prohibits candidates from transferring money raised during campaigns for state office to federal campaigns. But Nevada does not prohibit the transfer of federal funds to state campaign accounts.
Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, which spans from the California border through Henderson and Boulder City to the Arizona border, has bounced between Democrats and Republicans over the past decade. Incumbent Democrat Susie Lee won reelection by three percentage points in 2020 and raised $623,000 from July to September. Lee spent $166,000 and ended the quarter with $1.4 million in her campaign coffers.
Republican attorney April Becker raised $245,000 throughout the quarter. Becker, who ran for state Senate in 2020, spent $218,000 over the three month period and began October with $286,000 in cash on hand.
Becker out-raised Lee's other Republican challengers, including Mark Robertson and John Kovacs. Robertson raised $82,000 over the quarter and Kovacs raised $9,000 but loaned his campaign $112,000, most of which went to advertising and campaign consultants.
In Nevada's 4th Congressional District, which runs North Las Vegas up to rural White Pine County, third-term Democrat Steven Horsford raised $409,000 from July to September. Horsford won the seat in 2012, lost it in 2014 and then wrested it back in 2018. After winning by 4.9 percentage points in 2020, Horsford is set to face veteran Sam Peters and former Trump campaign staffer Carolina Serrano in next year's election.
Peters, who ran and lost in the 2020 Republican primary, raised $113,000 and spent $97,000. Serrano raised $31,000 and spent $39,000. Horsford ends the final stretch of 2021 with $1.5 million cash on hand, considerably more than either of his challengers, who have less than $100,000 in their campaign coffers.
Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.