Caucus backs former Democratic Party chair Roberta Lange, instead of Assembly members, for open Senate seat

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Election 2020Legislature
The inside of the Nevada Legislature during State of the State

Nevada Senate Democrats are endorsing former state party chairwoman Roberta Lange in the election to replace termed-out state Sen. David Parks.

The caucus announced the endorsement of Lange on Tuesday. The development marks a significant advantage for Lange in the primary election for a safely Democratic state Senate seat sought by at least two Assembly members — Ellen Spiegel and Richard Carrillo. 

“I want to bring my experience and dedication to the State Senate to help improve our public schools, expand access to quality, affordable health care, and help ensure all citizens have the ability to exercise their rights at the ballot box,” Lange said in a statement. “We have so much to do to continue to move our state forward, and I want to be on the frontline fighting for policies that will better the lives of the people in my community.”

Lange, a former teacher, has a long history of political involvement in Nevada, including serving as president of her local teachers union and several Democratic Party political clubs. She was also the deputy campaign manager of former Sen. Harry Reid’s 1998 re-election bid. 

But she’s best known for her three terms as chair of the Nevada State Democratic Party and overseeing the contentious 2016 state party convention, where supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders accused Lange of cooking the results in favor of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Lange was bombarded with voicemails and death threats following the convention, and the state party headquarters were vandalized.

Since the convention and leaving her post atop the state party in 2017, Lange has remained involved in Democratic politics, including mounting an unsuccessful bid for the post of Democratic National Committee secretary in 2017. She, along with two other past party chairs, recently endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

Other candidates who have announced their intention to run for the seat include Democratic Assembly members Ellen Spiegel and Richard Carrillo — both of whom represent districts within the boundaries of the state Senate district. Both would lose a chance to return to the Assembly if they run for the Senate seat, though the filing deadline isn’t until March.

Parks, the incumbent, has represented State Senate District 7 since it was created in 2010 and won his 2016 election with nearly 70 percent of the vote against a little-known Libertarian Party candidate. The district, which is east of McCarran International Airport and north of Henderson, has a voter registration advantage heavily tilted toward Democrats — 45.5 percent compared with 24.4 percent for registered Republicans, according to the most recent figures published by the secretary of state’s office.

Democrats currently enjoy a 13-8 advantage in the 21-member state Senate, where members are elected to four-year terms.


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