Election 2024

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Indy Elections: Where in the world is Captain Sam Brown?

Plus: Campaign ads and a new poll
Gabby Birenbaum
Gabby Birenbaum
Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller
Eric Neugeboren
Eric Neugeboren
Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Indy Elections

Indy Elections is The Nevada Independent’s newsletter devoted to comprehensive and accessible coverage of the 2024 elections, from the race for the White House to the bid to take control of the Legislature.

In today’s edition: Reporter Gabby Birenbaum explores complaints from Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sam Brown’s primary opponents about where he’s been on the campaign trail. We also look at a new ad highlighting the IRS’ new, free Direct File tool. And, of course, stick around for our Lightning Round.

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We want to hear from you! Send us your questions, comments, observations, jokes or what you think we should be covering or paying attention to. Email your newsletter editor Tabitha Mueller at [email protected].

Days until: 

  • Candidate withdrawal deadline: 1
  • Regular primary Election Day: 77a
  • Election Day: 224

Where in the world is Captain Sam Brown?

By Gabby Birenbaum 

Republican candidate Sam Brown, the front-runner to take on Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) in November, has been accused by lower-polling opponents of being absent from the campaign trail.

So what has Brown been up to? 

He’s been raising money, and a lot of it, with the help of numerous high-profile Republicans around the country, according to a copy of his national fundraising schedule obtained by The Nevada Independent.

His schedule, which catalogs fundraisers from Feb. 20 through April 16, includes eight fundraisers outside of Nevada and three events in Reno. The fundraising list is littered with prominent Republicans — Sens. John Thune (R-SD) in Washington, D.C., and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) in Oklahoma City and Tulsa; former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) in Phoenix and Atlanta, respectively; and an event hosted by two executives in Dallas. The Phoenix event was also hosted by Karrin Taylor Robson, an Arizona Republican who ran for governor in 2022 but lost the primary to Trump’s preferred candidate, Kari Lake.

Brown also held two fundraisers in California in late February. 

The support of governors and senators underscores the national Republican apparatus’ belief in Brown’s potential to beat Rosen. Last cycle, former Attorney General Adam Laxalt lost to Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) by less than 1 percentage point.

His national fundraising also speaks to the difference between being an insurgent and being the Washington-backed front-runner. Brown proved to be a strong grassroots fundraiser in 2022, a label he invokes often on the campaign trail. 

While 44 percent of his $3 million haul through the end of 2023 were from donations of $200 or less, Brown now has better access to large-dollar donors. Rosen’s $11 million in funds raised by the end of 2023, by comparison, was composed of about 31 percent small-dollar donations.

What we’re reading and writing

Lack of VP choice may invalidate RFK Jr.’s effort to get on Nevada ballot by Eric Neugeboren and Tabitha Mueller

Lessons learned: Always read the fine print (or at least the handy guide produced by the SOS).

GOP Senate candidate Brown refers women to crisis pregnancy centers on campaign website by Gabby Birenbaum

Brown is the lone swing state Republican candidate to do so.

Republicans accuse Nevada secretary of state of 'impossibly high' voter registration rates by Gabby Birenbaum

It’s all “apples to orangutans.”

During Nevada swing, Biden lays out housing agenda, draws contrast with Trump by Gabby Birenbaum, Carly Sauvageau and Eric Neugeboren

Affordable housing or bust.

In letter, Lombardo urges Biden to make more public land available for housing development by Tabitha Mueller

Affordable housing crisis is a land issue, Lombardo says to overshadow Biden’s visit.

Secretary of state delays rollout of top-down voter registration system to July by Eric Neugeboren and Tabitha Mueller

Better late than never.

Why is an elected official in California running for Nevada's Senate seat? by Gabby Birenbaum

Clearly, the answer is that Nevada is better than California.

Indy Poll Watch

Emerson College/KLAS-TV/The Hill (March 12-15)

  • 1,000 registered voters (Nevada)
  • Margin of error: 3 percent

Emerson College’s latest Nevada poll found former President Donald Trump with a 3-point lead over President Joe Biden, a narrower result than its February poll, which found a 6-point lead.

When third-party candidates were included, Trump’s lead over Biden expanded to 5 percentage points. In both scenarios, the undecided vote remained at more than 10 percent. 

Nevadans who plan to vote for Biden listed their top issues as the economy, threats to democracy and housing affordability, while Trump voters cared most about the economy, immigration and education.

When polling for the Senate race, Emerson found Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) with a lead over each of her notable potential opponents — though the race was closest against Republican candidate Sam Brown.

With large portions of the electorate undecided, Rosen led Brown by 2 percentage points, while she had a 10-point lead over both Jeff Gunter and Jim Marchant. 

Gabby Birenbaum

Indy Ad Watch

Better IRS — “File your taxes for free with Direct File”

Better IRS, an organization dedicated to modernizing the federal agency, launched a six-figure advertising campaign on Monday in Nevada and the 11 other states piloting a free new tool that allows people to e-file directly with the IRS. 

The campaign will run through the end of tax filing season on social media platforms and sites including Google, YouTube and Yahoo. The ads highlight the savings associated with using the tool.

Nearly half a million low- and middle-income Nevadans with simple tax situations are eligible for the new service.

Tabitha Mueller

Committee to Elect Cedric Crear — “Vegas Born Mayor

Las Vegas mayoral candidate Councilman Cedric Crear launched a $375,000 television ad buy for his campaign on March 4.

Against a backdrop of casino lights and jazzy music, Crear emphasizes that he was born and raised in Las Vegas and has spent more than two decades in public service.

“No one can sell our city on the global stage like me," he says in the ad.

The ad, which will run until the June 11 primary, appears to be the only television campaign ad in the mayoral election so far.

Tabitha Mueller

The Lightning Round

📫 USPS misses deadline on information to senators — Nevada’s two Democratic senators and lone Republican congressman sent a letter to the U.S. Postal Service last month raising concerns about moving key postal operations from Reno to Sacramento. Rosen’s office said the agency hasn’t provided additional information on how it decided the move would be beneficial by a March 15 deadline, although the Postal Service offered to provide a briefing that Rosen’s office is working to facilitate.

🏛️ Dems intervene in Republican voter roll cleanup suit — A group of progressive organizations (Rise Action Fund, the Institute for a Progressive Nevada, and the Nevada Alliance for Retired Americans) have filed to intervene in the voter roll cleanup lawsuit filed against state election officials by the Republican National Committee and Nevada Republican Party. The motion argues that the Republican groups are seeking “a rushed and unlawful purge of the voter rolls as the November general election approaches.”

🏜️Biden campaign opens Las Vegas offices — President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign is expanding its Southern Nevada presence with the opening of three new offices in Las Vegas. The campaign opened a North Las Vegas office on Saturday and will be opening offices in Southwest Las Vegas on Thursday and East Las Vegas next Thursday. 

🤫 Sorry state of disclosure — A new report gives Nevada a “poor” grade for its state Supreme Court financial disclosure requirements. Fix the Court, a nonprofit focused on improving court transparency, graded Nevada 34th in the nation, dinging the Silver State for not requiring justices to list their spouses’ income or gifts given to spouses.

1️⃣ Endorsement watch Pt. 1 — Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo endorsed Sam Brown in the 2024 U.S. Senate race.

2️⃣ Endorsement watch Pt. 2 — The Clark County Education Association endorsed Assemblywoman Angie Taylor (D-Reno) in her bid for state Senate. Taylor is facing a primary challenge from Reno City Councilwoman Naomi Duerr.

3️⃣ Endorsement watch Pt. 3 — Concerned Veterans for America Action endorsed Sam Brown in the Nevada Senate race. The Koch-backed veterans' advocacy group has endorsed two other Republican veterans running for Congress so far this cycle.

🧑‍⚖️ Alleged Lombardo stalker indicted — A grand jury indicted Stanley Weaver III, 28, for aggravated stalking and first-degree arson after Weaver was accused of vandalizing a former home of Gov. Joe Lombardo. Weaver, who suspects without evidence that Lombardo committed murder, filmed and posted a video of himself throwing a rock through the window. Proceedings will begin in district court on March 26.

✉️ SOS responds to House committee inquiry — Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI), who chairs the Committee on House Administration, sent a letter on March 4 asking Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar to explain a “glitch” incorrectly showing that voters had cast a ballot in the presidential primary. In a response last week, Aguilar pointed to his office’s public explanation after the error came to light. Aguilar added that the state’s forthcoming voter system should prevent future errors while criticizing the congressman for opposing increased federal funding for elections. 

💰Retail group won’t support effort to cap attorney fees — The Retail Association of Nevada has clarified that it will not support an Uber-backed effort to cap how much attorneys can charge in fees in civil cases. The political action committee behind the petition said last week that the organization is supporting the effort. But the group said in a statement Monday that the information was released without its permission and it “will not be participating in this effort.”

Riley Snyder, Eric Neugeboren, Gabby Birenbaum and Tabitha Mueller

And to ease you into the week, a few “posts” to “X” that caught our eye: 

We’ll see you next week. 

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