It’s a going to be a bit of a sleeper in the Silver State this November: the incumbent governor looks pretty safe and the two competitive House races are long shots. Things could heat up as we approach the election, but right now here’s the situation:
Governor: Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) is one of the most popular incumbents in the country and he is expected to cruise to victory in November. Has no significant opposition in the Republican ranks and the Democratic primary has attracted nothing but no-names and has-beens. Polling shows him crushing it in the general election and overall he’s posting numbers more akin to a Republican in a red state than a Republican in a blue state. This race is Safe Republican.
NV-03: Rep. Joe Heck (R) represents one of the swingiest districts in the country and this year he’s facing a strong challenger in Democratic Committeewoman Erin Bilbray, a charismatic progressive activist who has shown the ability to raise money in a difficult environment for Democrats. That being said, this is a difficult environment for Democrats and Heck is a moderate Republican who fits well with the ideology of the district. So Heck will remain the favorite in this Likely Republican race, but he may have to break a sweat to cross the finish line in November.
NV-04: The GOP’s only chance for a pick-up in Nevada is the seat currently held by Rep. Steven Horsford (D), who took office in 2012 as the first representative from Nevada’s newly created 4th congressional district. The two Republicans angling to replace him are State Rep. Crescent Hardy and Congress on Racial Equality spokesman Niger Innis. Both Hardy and Innis has a equal shot at winning the nomination, but they would face an uphill climb to represent this Democratic leaning district. Regardless of who wins the GOP primary, this race is Likely Democratic and it would take a strong Republican effort for the GOP to have a chance at winning in November.
The Gem State is a bastion of conservatism and the GOP is widely expected win all the major races this year. Of course, that rightward tilt can come back to haunt some incumbents who aren’t seen as conservative enough for Idaho. This is what’s going on:
Governor: Gov. Butch Otter (R) (who, despite his name, has only appeared in one pornographic film) is running for a third term and in one of the most conservative states in the country he looks pretty safe for reelection. The only possible hitch is a primary upset by State Sen. Russ Fulcher (R), who is going after Otter from the right. As for the Democrats, they look likely to nominate businessman and Boise School District Board of Trustees President A. J. Balukoff, pretty much a no-name candidate. All in all, Otter is a fairly popular incumbent and it’s hard to see how he doesn’t get reelected. And even if by some fluke he loses the GOP primary, this seat will remain Safe Republican.
Senate: First term Sen. Jim Risch (R), who replaced Sen. Larry “Wide Stance” Craig (R) in 2009, is running for reelection and there is no one who is going to stop him from winning another term. He is running virtually unopposed in the GOP primary and his only Democratic opponent is attorney Nels Mitchell, who has a zero political experience and meager finances in a very red state. The November election is nothing but a formality since this race is extremely Safe Republican.
ID-02: Rep. Mike Simpson has has represented Idaho’s 2nd District since 1999 and in 2014 he has attracted a Tea Party challenger in Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith. Smith has attracted heavy hitter support from the likes of FreedomWorks, the Club for Growth, and the Senate Conservatives Fund. Simpson for his part has also brought out the heavy guns, touting endorsements from Gov. Otter, Sen. Risch, and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who could be a big asset in this heavily Mormon district. Overall, Simpson seems to be doing everything right and right now he’s the favorite in the GOP primary. The main Democratic challenger is former Rep. Richard Stallings (D), who represented the district for 8 years in the late 80s and early 90s. Both Smith and Simpson would be favorites against Stallings, but overall Simpson would probably fare better. Until we know which GOP candidate will face Stallings, this race is Likely Republican.