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Dems plan Assembly takeover

Assembly Democrats gather today at the Clark County Government Center to talk about taking back the Nevada Assembly. (Jeff Gillan/KSNV)

2014. What 2014?

Democrats are putting their election disaster of two years behind them, saying 2016 is a whole new ballgame. Today, Assembly Democrats said they're targeting nine local districts, in an effort to recapture control of the state's lower house.

First, a refresher: in November 2014, the Republican "red wave" swept over Nevada, handing Republicans complete control of all levers of state government, the first time that has happened here in decades. That night in November also ushered out Assembly Democrats, making them the minority in the chamber for the first time in 30 years. They've been licking their wounds ever since.

One Democrat said it wasn't so much a Red Wave, as a Blue Boycott. Democrats simply didn't vote.

Just ask former Assemblyman Jason Frierson, who lost his seat by 40 votes.

"I've talked to more than 40 voters who apologized for not showing up," Frierson told News 3 Wednesday in front of the Clark County Government Center, where he and a handful of other Democrats filed for office today.

The Democratic plan targets nine seats where they have registration advantages. They consider three "slam dunks," where their advantage is in the double digits: Districts 8, 10 and 34. The six others, Districts 5, 9, 21, 29, 35 and 41 are considered "top targets."

In the 42-seat Assembly, Republicans hold the majority 25 to 17. A swing of five seats would put Democrats back in charge.

Businessman Chris Brooks was among the Democrats filing today. He's hoping to unseat freshman Republican incumbent Shelly Shelton in District 10, whom Democrats have labeled an "extreme politician."

"I have very deep roots in that district," Brooks told News 3, "and I understand that district."

Brooks was one of the handfuls who filed today.

"I think that the Democratic Party, and me individually, more accurately reflect what that district wants to see in a representative in the State Legislature," Brooks continued.

I tried to reach Shelton, but as of this story my voicemail had not been returned.

In District 21, three Democrats are lining up to face off against freshman Republican Derek Armstrong, who may get a primary. He was one of the Republicans who voted in favor of the Governor's tax hike, the biggest in Nevada history, angering conservatives in his own party.

"You only run two ways - scared or unopposed," Armstrong said in his office near the Strip. He's not impressed with the Democratic push to retake the Assembly.

"The constant theme I hear from them is 'never again,'" which has been confusing for me because they've been in control for about 30 years, and our education system has gotten continually worse," Armstrong said. "The first time Republicans had control we passed widespread education reform and we're seeing changes that have never occurred before."

Democrats counter that Assembly Republicans were fixated on gun issues or social concerns that catered to a conservative base.

"We're worrying about which bathroom children use in school," Frierson said, referring to the transgender debate which happened during the last session.

In the meantime, both parties gear up: Democrats to recapture, and Republicans to protect.


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