Unions, casinos and utilities power Southern Nevada local government campaigns
Casino companies and groups affiliated with labor unions are among the heavy-hitter donors for candidates in Southern Nevada’s local government races, including those for the mayor of Nevada’s largest city, seats on the powerful Clark County Commission and a competitive race to fill an open Las Vegas City Council seat.
In most of the major council and commission seats, the incumbent is seeking re-election in 2024. And almost without fail, the incumbent outraised any challengers last calendar year.
Although their candidacy does not become official until the filing period that begins March 4, candidates for local government offices have already begun fundraising and faced a Jan. 15 deadline to file campaign finance reports with the Nevada secretary of state’s office for any donations and expenditures they had in 2023.
An incumbent or person seeking public office must file a campaign finance report if they have filed for candidacy or if they have received more than $100 in contributions, regardless of if they have filed for candidacy or not.
Though some candidates for the Las Vegas mayor’s race have been fundraising since 2021, other local race hopefuls announced their candidacy as late as last week. This means that while some candidates have hundreds of thousands in campaign funds, others haven’t brought in enough to trigger a requirement to file a finance report.
Below, see which local candidates have the funds — and which don’t — and where they got their money from:
Las Vegas Mayor: Berkley, Seaman and Crear post big fundraising numbers
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman terms out in 2024 after holding the nonpartisan position since 2011, leaving the seat open and attracting a spirited competition.
Former Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) outraised other candidates last year and brought in $1.1 million. Berkley, who had a long career in politics before losing a high-profile U.S. Senate race in 2012, has $1 million cash on hand and received a considerable amount of donations from residents in Southern California cities such as Calabasas, Encino and Beverly Hills.
Berkley received 16 maximum donations of $10,000, including those from prominent political influencers and wealthy local families such as Caesars Entertainment executive Jan Jones, real estate developer and international resorts executive Stephen Cloobeck, retired judge Miriam Shearing, high-end real estate developer Beth Molasky and former Boyd Gaming executive Bob Boughner.
Las Vegas City Councilwoman Victoria Seaman, a former Republican assemblywoman, raised the second-highest amount in the mayor’s race, reporting $758,000 from all contributions last year. She headed into 2024 with $791,000 cash on hand.
Seaman received donations exceeding the maximum contribution allowed from real estate investment firm Ernest A. Becker, which made several payments totaling $14,000, and Ultimate Ammunition firearm manufacturers, which gave her several thousand-dollar increments totaling $11,000. She said those overages were refunded.
She received maximum contributions of $10,000 from Stuart Smith, CEO of Las Vegas Recovery drug rehabilitation; Derek J. Stevens, who co-owns Circa Las Vegas, the D Hotel and Casino and Golden Gate Casino; developer Lawrence D. Canarelli, CEO of American West Homes; and Station Casinos. Other notable donations came from Gold and Silver Pawn Shop ($8,000) and Dollar Loan Center CEO Chuck Brennan ($7,000).
Las Vegas Councilman Cedric Crear, who raised $421,000 in 2023, came in third place in fundraising and has $790,000 cash on hand.
Crear received six maximum donations of $10,000, including from private equity firm 361 Ventures, Symphony Park Condos, Palace Station Casino and Red Rock Casino Resort Spa. Other notable donations came from Elaine Wynn ($5,000) and former Palms Casino owner George Maloof ($2,500).
Crear is vacating the Las Vegas City Council Ward 5 seat to run for mayor after serving nearly six years in the position, including about two years after winning a special election to replace embattled Councilman Ricki Barlow.
Medical transportation expert Donna Miller reported raising $169,000 during the last reporting period, most of it from self-funding. She has $153,000 cash on hand.
Nevada Equal Rights Commission Administrator Kara Jenkins reported raising $48,000 from all contributions last year and has $31,000 cash on hand.
Businesswoman Tera Anderson, a third-generation Las Vegan, raised $121,000 in total contributions, with more than $65,000 coming from herself and family-owned businesses. She has $90,000 cash on hand.
Small business owner Deb Peck did not file a campaign finance report by the week’s deadline.
Las Vegas City Council: Three seats up, but eyes on Ward 5
Seats representing Wards 1, 3 and 5 are up for election in 2024, with incumbents seeking re-election in the first two and stiffer competition for an open seat in the third.
The Ward 5 city council seat is up for grabs after Crear announced he will vacate his position to run for mayor.
Two-term Assemblywoman Shondra Summers-Armstrong (D-Las Vegas) outraised other candidates vying for the seat with $47,000 in contributions from last year. She has $44,000 cash on hand.
Summerlin Master Planned Community gave Summers-Armstrong $2,500, while Southwest Gas Corp. gave her $2,000 and NV Energy gave her $1,500. She also received $200 from the Nevada Black Legislative Caucus.
Her largest contributions were a $10,000 donation to herself and $5,000 from Be the Change PAC that has ties to former Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani.
Former Assemblyman Cameron “C.H.” Miller raised $14,000 last year and has $18,000 cash on hand. His largest donation was a $1,500 contribution received from Summerlin Master Planned Community. Miller also received $1,000 each from Sapphire Leadership PAC, which names Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno (D-North Las Vegas) as an officer, Care With Purpose Medical Center and the Campaign to Elect Rochelle Nguyen, a fellow Democratic lawmaker.
Republican entrepreneur Erika Smith did not file a campaign finance report by the week’s deadline.
Las Vegas City Councilman Brian Knudsen is seeking re-election to Ward 1. He raised $316,000 last year and has $340,000 cash on hand.
Knudsen does not yet have a challenger for the Ward 1 seat.
Councilwoman Olivia Díaz is seeking re-election to Ward 3 and brought in $393,000 in 2023, including $10,000 from Beverly Rogers, chairman of the Rogers Scholarship Foundation, and about $80,000 from numerous corporate real estate firms and development companies including from Lawrence D. Canarelli, CEO of American West Homes, D.R. Horton construction company and multiple companies affiliated with developer J. Dapper.
She had $403,000 cash on hand heading into 2024.
Díaz will face a challenger in businesswoman and third-generation Las Vegan Melissa Clary, who raised $100,000 last year for the race and has $80,000 on hand. At least $55,000 was from several political action committees that tie back to labor union organizers Thomas White, Marco Hernandez and Dennis Cronin.
North Las Vegas Council: Appointee gets support from utility companies, city hall
Two seats are up for election on the North Las Vegas City Council, with incumbents in a strong financial position.
North Las Vegas City Councilwoman Ruth Garcia-Anderson, appointed to the Ward 2 position in 2022, raised $107,000 last year in her bid to remain in office and has $82,000 cash on hand.
She received support from influential utility companies, with $15,000 between three departments at Republic Services, and $10,000 from Kaempfer Crowell law offices.
She also received $5,000 from the Committee to Elect Scott Black, a fellow councilman who is not up for election this cycle, and $500 from North Las Vegas Mayor Pamela Goynes-Brown.
Cosmetology entrepreneur and community organizer Robert “Twixx” Taylor did not file a campaign finance report by the week’s deadline.
With no known challenger as of yet, North Las Vegas City Councilman Richard Cherchio raised $35,000 last year and has $160,000 on hand for his re-election campaign.
Chericho received $10,000 from Kaempfer Crowell law offices, $8,500 from Western Elite dumpster company and $5,000 from real estate investment company American Holdings.
Clark County Commission: PACs spend big on candidates
Four of the seven Clark County Commission seats, all of which are currently held by Democrats, are on the ballot this year. Commissioners Michael Naft, Marilyn Kirkpatrick and William McCurdy II are running for re-election, while Ross Miller announced last month that he will not seek to retain his seat.
Commissioners are elected from geographic districts on a partisan basis for staggered four-year terms.
Republican April Becker raised more than $329,000, of which a third — $110,000 — came from 22 individual entities that are connected to the Becker family business, Becker Enterprises, a development company created by the late real estate mogul Ernie Becker. No known candidates have joined her yet in the race for Miller's District C seat — a victory would make her the first Republican Clark County commissioner since 2008.
Becker, an attorney, previously challenged Democrat Rep. Susie Lee in the Congressional District 3 race in 2022, which she lost by 4 percentage points, and state Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas) in 2020, losing by just 1 percentage point.
Becker also received $55,000 total in donations from political action committees (PACs), including 6PAC, 420PAC and Laborers For Solid State Leadership PAC, that are run by Tommy White, a leader for Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 872. Commissioners approve land usage and development plans and contracts, which the union and its members — who work in construction, including highways, buildings and public services — could benefit from.
Becker has more than $293,000 cash on hand.
Naft, who has been in office since 2019, raised about $1.15 million in 2023 for his re-election campaign. Among contributors giving the maximum $10,000 donation were the Athletics Investment Group LLC (which owns and operates the Oakland Athletics), state Treasurer Zach Conine’s Let’s Get to Work Nevada PAC and MGM Resorts International.
Naft finished the year with nearly $1.3 million cash on hand.
Naft is facing a challenge from Republican Ryan Hamilton, former director of government relations for the nonprofit Vegas Stronger, an organization that aims to reduce homelessness and address substance use disorders and mental illness. Hamilton has previously worked as a lobbyist for the Las Vegas Sands when the company was owned by GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson.
Hamilton, who announced his candidacy Jan. 4, did not file a campaign finance report.
Updated at 2:51 p.m. on 1/30/24 to reflect that Ryan Hamilton ended employment at Vegas Stronger effective Jan. 5, 2024, and is self-employed.
Kirkpatrick, who has yet to attract a challenger, raised $279,500 last year. She first assumed office in 2015 after a lengthy tenure in the Legislature. Kirkpatrick received monetary support from several hotel and casino entities, including $10,000 each from Horseshoe, Derek Stevens Trust and Station Casinos, and $30,000 combined from MGM Resorts International, MGM Grand and Aria.
Kirkpatrick also received support from 11 PACs led by, or associated with, White, totaling $30,000. The commissioner had more than $333,000 cash on hand at the end of the year.
McCurdy was elected with 77 percent of the vote in 2020 after serving in the state Assembly. In 2023, he raised more than $297,000 for his run for re-election.
Donations included $10,000 from the company that owns and operates the Oakland Athletics and $30,000 total from MGM Resorts International and its casino-resorts New York New York and Excalibur. McCurdy also reported receiving tickets to the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix valued at $10,900 — the event was categorized as educational. Records show four other commissioners who are not running to be re-elected also received the tickets.
He ended 2023 with just over $249,000 cash on hand.
Henderson City Council: Incumbents keep solid fundraising for re-election
Henderson City Council members Dan Shaw, Dan Stewart and Jim Seebock are facing re-election this year. The Henderson council seats are nonpartisan, and the three incumbents do not have challengers yet.
Shaw, who was appointed to the seat in June 2017, raised nearly $306,000 last year. Many of his donors also supported his colleagues Stewart and Seebock.
The councilman also spent nearly $20,000 to support Seebock and Stewart’s campaigns as well as Henderson Mayor Michelle Romero and Gov. Joe Lombardo. Shaw has $297,000 cash on hand.
Seebock is the newest member of the council after being elected in April during a special election, filling the seat that was left vacant after Romero, a former councilmember, became mayor in January 2023. Last year, he raised nearly $378,000, including $15,000 combined from Republic Services through three different accounts.
He has $362,000 cash on hand.
Stewart was appointed to the Henderson City Council in January 2017 and then subsequently elected in 2019. In 2023, he raised $492,000, including $10,000 from Station Casinos. Stewart spent more than $105,000 and also contributed to other campaigns, including those for Naft’s and Kirkpatrick’s re-election.
He has nearly $413,000 cash on hand.