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Republican Cresent Hardy talks with attendees at his campaign office opening event in Las Vegas on July 28, 2018. (Michelle Rindels/The Nevada Independent)

Fresh off a grueling four-day, 10-stop tour of rural Nevada — his bread and butter, the places he feels most comfortable — Cresent Hardy seems downright energetic.

The Republican nominee for Nevada’s 4th Congressional District is working the crowd at a campaign office opening event in Las Vegas on Saturday. Hardy, 61, is moved to tears when talking about his wife Peri’s sacrifices for his campaign. The inspiration is flowing as he talks off the cuff about how the Constitution was perfect when it was drafted and shouldn’t be viewed as a living, evolving document.

“The final decision, the big decision, was — I care about my posterity, my children and grandchildren,” said Hardy, who served one term representing the district, about his decision to make a comeback into the political arena. “I’d like to stay home with them, but I really care about them and I think the future of this country is up for grabs right now.”

Hardy won an upset during the red wave of 2014, ousting Steven Horsford in the Democratic-leaning district. But then he lost the seat in 2016 to Ruben Kihuen, who in turn announced he wouldn’t seek re-election as he faces down allegations of sexual harassment. (Kihuen denies the accusations.)

Early this year, Republican Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony aborted his bid for the district, citing health issues, and cleared the way for Hardy to run the race free of a competitive primary.

A fifth-generation Nevadan who built up a construction company and took his latest campaign photos next to his Ford F-350 pickup truck, Hardy rose through the ranks of local and legislative service before making the leap to Congress. He doesn’t have a college degree and lacks the rhetorical polish of Kihuen and Horsford. He’s spent the last two years helping friends build up what will some day be a 50,000-head hog farm in North Las Vegas.

But he’s got a good feeling about the race ahead of him, in spite of the 9-point Democratic registration advantage and the fact that Horsford — with support from the formidable Culinary Union — trounced four strong primary opponents.

“I believe that I’ll outwork Steven Horsford again,” Hardy said. “I’m not what you call a politically astute analyst of any of that stuff. So mine is based on all gut and heart. And I will tell you this is the first time in my life that I’m very optimistic that I’ll win the seat.”

Hardy’s 2016 loss came just weeks after he and Republican Rep. Joe Heck stood on a hay wagon in front of a campaign rally crowd and TV cameras and withdrew their support for Donald Trump. That came after news that Trump had made vulgar comments about women on a hot mic on Access Hollywood.

“I’ve said all along I would, but I will no longer support him,” Hardy said at the time. “Because I think that when we degrade that mother, wife, housewife, whatever you want to deal with, daughter — that you degrade America.”

But on Saturday, Hardy acknowledged publicly for the first time that he voted for Trump.

“There was nobody else to vote for,” he said. Indeed, Hardy had said at the 2016 rally that Hillary Clinton “has no integrity.”

He’s also changed his tune on Trump, adding that he’s “ecstatic” about the direction some of his policies are going and thinks optimism about the economy under Republican leadership will give him an edge over Horsford.

“I’ve got to give him credit,” Hardy said about Trump. “I believe he’s the first honest person. He’s doing everything he promised he would do and … I doubted it, you know.”

“I’m not afraid to stand up if we disagree, but I’ll support him in the direction he’s going in 90 percent of the cases right now,” he continued.

As for the other 10 percent where he disagrees with Trump?

“There [are] areas, but I don’t think they need to be discussed,” he said.

If elected to Congress, he said his goals will be to balance the budget, reduce the national debt and continue to work on public lands issues that affect Nevadans.

“I believe that people need to always work towards those constitutional values and continue trying to have a limited, efficient government,” he said.

He said if voters liked what they saw in the Obama administration, Horsford is their man. But he said if they notice the new growth of commercial buildings along the 1-15, and if they like the tax benefits from the Trump administration, they should elect him.

“I think it’s also the hope that people were looking for through the previous administration … is coming through this administration,” he said.

Disclosure: The Culinary Union has donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.
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