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Fundraising report: Rosen and Heller neck and neck, congressional candidates jostle for campaign cash

Michelle Rindels
Michelle Rindels
Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Election 2018

The 2018 midterm elections are more than a year away, but the fundraising battle over Nevada’s coveted U.S. Senate seat and two closely watched congressional districts is already heating up.

Candidates for Nevada’s four House districts and U.S. Senate seat gave the public a look into their internal finances and fundraising prowess on Monday, the deadline for releasing the Federal Election Commission’s October quarterly report, which covers contributions and spending from July through the end of September.

The reports revealed a close fundraising battle between the top two candidates for U.S. Senate, with freshman Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen appearing to narrowly outraise incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller. Both reported hauls around $1.1 million, though Heller reported about $3 million more than Rosen in available cash on hand.

In Nevada’s highly competitive 3rd Congressional District, a jostling crowd of Republican candidates was led by former Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman. Meanwhile, Democratic candidate and philanthropist Susie Lee appears to be on the path to avoiding a contentious primary after raising more than all Republican candidates combined.

Below, we’ve outlined how the last three months of fundraising went for major candidates and elected officials in Nevada’s congressional and Senate races.


The top two contenders in Nevada’s closely watched 2018 Senate contest reported amassing similar amounts of cash over the fundraising period, though Heller reported significantly more cash on hand than Rosen.

Heller — widely considered to be one of the most vulnerable senators up for re-election in 2018 — reported raising about $1.1 million last quarter, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The newspaper reported he spent $530,000 and had more than $4.2 million in his campaign coffers.

Rosen reported raising $1.185 million over the three-month period, appearing to narrowly out-raise Heller while still lagging in cash on hand — she had $1.2 million, only about a quarter of the funds available to Heller.

Her campaign said much of the financial support came from small-dollar donors — more than 92 percent of the 20,000 contributions received by the campaign were under $100.

But Heller faces a serious primary challenger in Danny Tarkanian, a Republican businessman and frequent candidate who reported raising $307,000 over the fundraising period, with $270,000 cash on hand.

The campaign for attorney Jesse Sbaih, a Democrat, didn’t return an email seeking information on his fundraising totals.


Candidates have flocked to run in Southern Nevada’s swingy 3rd congressional district, which is up for grabs after incumbent Rosen announced she is running for Senate.

Democratic education advocate and philanthropist Susie Lee outraised all other candidates last quarter in the district, which includes Henderson and Summerlin. Lee reported raising $315,178 and finishing the quarter with $308,327 on hand.

“Our early success is a clear sign that Nevadans want real leadership from a proven problem-solver like Susie, not someone who will act on behalf of special interests in Washington,” campaign manager Brandon Cox said in a statement.

Lee, who lost a primary in a different district last year, has backing this cycle from virtually all of the Democratic establishment, including former Sen. Harry Reid and all Democrats in the Nevada congressional delegation. The only other Democrat who filed a report with the Federal Election Commission and raised funds was John Love, who reported bringing in $10,950 and had almost all of that still on hand.

On the Republican side, former Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman outraised her GOP opponents with $114,008 this quarter (although $50,000 was money she loaned herself), and she has $111,254 on hand. Seaman lost a state Senate race by 2 percentage points last cycle to Democrat Nicole Cannizzaro.

Notable contributors to Seaman’s campaign include Don Ahern, CEO of heavy equipment business Ahern Rentals, Mark James, former state senator and ex-president of major taxi company Frias Transportation, Monte Miller of the conservative group Keystone Corporation and former Assemblyman Brent Jones, who owns the bottled water firm, Real Water.

Seaman outperformed state Sen. Scott Hammond, who’s best known for his sponsorship of the Education Savings Account school choice program. He collected $51,700 last quarter and ends with $45,561 on hand.

Notable Hammond donors include former Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy and Michael Gaughan, owner of the South Point casino.

Autism advocate and political newcomer Lynda Tache pulled in $51,355 last quarter, but announced Monday that she was withdrawing from the crowded Republican field.

“At this time, after careful thought and consideration, I’ve decided that my service to our community would be best spent continuing my work here with you, not in Washington,” she said in a statement, pointing to her work with the Grant a Gift Autism Foundation. “I want to thank you all for your support for my campaign. I will truly never forget it.”

David McKeon, former chairman of the Clark County Republican Party, said he raised $39,695 last quarter and ended with $24,772 on hand.


Democrat Rep. Ruben Kihuen is in a strong financial position as he defends his 4th Congressional District seat, which covers North Las Vegas and rural central Nevada. It has a comfortable Democratic voter registration advantage but is still swingy — it went Republican in the 2014 midterm election.

Kihuen reported raising $217,926 last quarter and spending $73,540. He ends the quarter with a massive war chest: $486,092 on hand.

Notable donors include attorney Ed Bernstein, the Cherokee Nation, the League of Conservation Voters PAC and Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson. He also received money from PACs for major telecommunications firms including T-Mobile, Cox and Comcast.

His Republican opponent, Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony, reported raising $141,145 last quarter and spending $19,351. He has $121,794 on hand.

Notable Anthony donors included Sheriff Joe Lombardo, Republican National Committeewoman Diana Orrock, Chevrolet dealership owner Ed Bozarth, Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore, the Joe Heck campaign and former Sen. John Ensign.

Kihuen’s Democratic primary opponent Amy Vilela, who’s running on a progressive platform to the left of Kihuen, raised $5,459 last quarter and has $3,041 on hand.


Incumbent Democrat Dina Titus, who recently ended speculation that she might run a primary campaign for U.S. Senate against Rosen, hasn’t yet drawn much competition in her re-election bid for the 1st Congressional District in urban Las Vegas.

Titus reported raising $61,529 last quarter and ending with $310,188 cash on hand. The bulk of her donations came from political action committees including the Ford Motor Company Civic Action Fund, the National Cannabis Industry Association and the NV Energy Political Action Committee.

No other candidates reported fundraising to the FEC, although Reuben D’Silva, who lost to her last cycle when he ran as an independent, said he was launching a Democratic campaign for the seat.


Incumbent Republican Rep. Mark Amodei reported raising more than $237,000 during the fundraising period, while spending almost $162,000 over the same period of time.

The congressman, who represents a large Northern Nevada district with a healthy Republican advantage in voter registration, now has $249,000 in available cash on hand, expanding his war chest by more than $75,000 since the last reporting deadline.

Major donors to Amodei include Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson (and his wife Miriam and daughter Shelley), El Dorado Hotel Casino Director Cindy Carano, Bodines Casino owner Michael Pegram and Dotty’s Casino founder Craig Estey.

His likely primary opponent, former Assemblywoman and 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle, didn’t file a fundraising report for the most recent period. Democratic candidate Rick Shepard also didn’t file a report, and had a little less than $3,000 in the bank after the last reporting period.

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

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