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The U.S. Capitol. Public domain image.
Ex-Rep. Cresent Hardy. Photo courtesy U.S. Congress.

Former GOP Rep. Cresent Hardy has formally jumped into the race for Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, which he used to represent.

Hardy filed paperwork Thursday with the Federal Election Commission, indicating he’s running for the seat held by Rep. Ruben Kihuen, who said he isn’t seeking re-election. Kihuen is facing an ethics investigation amid allegations of sexual harassment, which he has denied.

Hardy’s announcement comes three days after Republican Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony announced he’s dropping out of the contest. Anthony, who has been running since the summer, said he was recently hospitalized for three days with an elevated heart rate and thinks the stress of a congressional campaign would worsen his condition.

After Anthony reveal his plans, Hardy said he was seriously considering the race.

“This is a critical time for our country, but for America, and for Nevada, no challenge is too great,” said Hardy.

The 4th Congressional District combines wide swaths of rural central Nevada with urban North Las Vegas and has an 11 percentage point Democratic advantage, but it’s not unwinnable for Republicans. Hardy scored an upset in 2014’s red wave, unseating one-term Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Drew Godinich issued a statement shortly after the filing predicting Republicans would lose the district.

“This is a fundamentally Democratic district that will be next to impossible for Republicans to win, especially with the overwhelming grassroots energy behind Democrats and the weight of a disastrous, anti-middle class agenda that Washington Republicans have forced onto Nevadans weighing Republicans down,” he said. “Democrats have a proven track record of winning open seats in Nevada, and will do it again in 2018.”

A large number of Democrats are in the race or are considering bids. State Sen. Pat Spearman announced earlier this month that she’s running, while progressive candidate Amy Vilela jumped in in July in response to Kihuen not supporting a Medicare for all proposal. High school principal and political newcomer John Anzalone is in the race.

North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee has also expressed interest.

Horsford, who won the seat in 2012 before losing to Hardy, is also expected to return for a potential rematch, according to a source close to the former congressman. He had moved to Washington D.C. and founded a public relations and workforce consulting company but has said he’s considering seeking his old seat.

Lee and Spearman have said they aren’t worried about Horsford jumping in.

The plainspoken Hardy, 60, has worked in construction but also in a variety of public service roles. He served as the Mesquite public works director and on the Mesquite City Council before his two terms in the Nevada Assembly, and he’s served on the boards of a water district, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.

Kihuen, whose ground game got a major boost from the powerful Culinary Union, won 49 percent of the vote in 2016 compared with Hardy’s 45 percent.

Updated at 3:10 p.m. on Jan. 18, 2018 to add a statement from the DCCC.

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