By Thomas Mitchell
Special to The Ely Times
It may have been a Republican rout across Nevada, but it was voters in rural counties who turned out in greater numbers and helped turn the state Republican red.
While turnout in Clark County, where more than two-thirds of the state’s population resides, was only 41 percent, turnout in many rural counties topped 60 percent, hitting 83 percent in Lander and 80 percent Eureka.
The dreaded mining tax constitutional amendment, Question 2, which would have removed the 5 percent cap on the net proceeds tax on minerals, went down to defeat by less than a percentage point, or 3,300 votes. The measure won with 56 percent of the vote in Clark County, where the state’s largest newspaper, the Review-Journal, endorsed passage of the amendment, but was defeated by huge margins in the rural counties, where most newspapers editorially opposed the change. Voters opposed the measure by more than 80 percent in Elko, Esmeralda, Eureka, Lander and White Pine counties.
The rural counties also played a role in the Republican sweep of statewide offices on the ballot — Brian Sandoval for governor, Mark Hutchison for lieutenant governor, Adam Laxalt for attorney general, Barbara Cegavske for secretary of state, Ron Knecht for controller and Dan Schwartz for treasurer.
Sandoval, Hutchison, Schwartz and Knecht won in every county, despite the fact Schwartz’s opponent was endorsed by the Reno and Las Vegas newspapers and despite the fact Knecht’s opponent for backed by the Reno paper.
The biggest difference made by the rurals may have been the somewhat surprising win of newcomer Laxalt over 12-year Secretary of State Ross Miller by less than 1 percentage point statewide. Democrat Miller carried the endorsement of the Las Vegas and Reno newspapers and won in Clark by 6 points and in Washoe by less than 2 points. Laxalt won most of the others counties with double-digit margins, by more than 52 points in Eureka, by 44 points in Lincoln and Elko counties.
Cegavske won in every county expect Washoe and Mineral.
The Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, Lincoln County Record, Eureka Sentinel, Mineral County Independent-News and Mesquite Local News — endorsed the Republican slate, except for Sandoval whose race was never in doubt.
Another race that many considered an upset was determined by rural voters — Congressional District 4, in which Democrat freshman incumbent Steven Horsford was defeated by Mesquite Republican Cresent Hardy by nearly 3 percentage points.
In the portion of Clark County in the district Horsford, who was endorsed by the Las Vegas newspaper, won by less than 2 points. Hardy carried Mineral by only 1 point, but won by double digits in the rest of the counties — 46 points in Esmeralda, 51 in Lincoln, 37 in Lyon, 21 in Nye and 30 in White Pine.
In a reversal of fortunes, Republicans now control majorities in both the state Assembly and Senate, taking 25 Assembly seats and leaving Democrats with just 17. All the Democrats in the Legislature are from either Clark or Washoe. None is from a rural county.
So, yes, your votes counted.