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Kihuen's decision puts CD4 back in play, but how much?

Nevada freshman U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen called President Donald Trump's executive order to ban several scopes of immigrant "un-American," during a news conference Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, at Rep. Dina Titus' downtown Las Vegas office. (Thuan Nguyen)

When Democrats looked to Congressional District 4 just three weeks ago, they were expecting to go into a November 2018 battle with an incumbent poised for reelection, with ties to the progressive, labor, and Latino communities. But that changed Dec. 1, when Buzzfeed brought claims forward by a former Kihuen campaign aide who said he made sexual advances.

That woman was the first of several to come forward. On Saturday, the Nevada Independent said the number of accusers now stood at four.

That same day, Kihuen, who has refused to resign, said he would not run for reelection. He also denied the accusations.

“Well, it's an open seat now,” says Republican and Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony, who now thinks his own run has a real shot.

Anthony declared for the seat this past summer.

RELATED | Accused of sexual harassment by 4 women, Kihuen will serve out term, not seek re-election

“Whoever the Democrats put out there, will be a brand new candidate,” Anthony says. “I think I’m in great shape here not having an incumbent and being out there, and people like what I have to say.”

It's a brand new day for a seat the Democrats need to keep. The 4th district is a huge middle chunk of Nevada, both rural and urban, spanning seven Nevada counties.

Its first election went Democrat. The next, Republican, the next, Democrat.

Kihuen, who was a rare Democratic victory in 2016, got lots of help from the powerful Culinary Union, tapping into the district's sizeable Latino and blue-collar communities, which should continue, says UNLV's Michael Green.

“It's hard to imagine another Democrat who would not have significant support in that regard,” Green says.

Democrats mulling, we hear, include state senator Yvanna Cancella, state senator Pat Spearman, and the 4th's first congressman, Steven Horsford.

RELATED | House Ethics committee to investigate Nevada Rep. Ruben Kihuen

Conservatives also think they have an opportunity.

“I think the Republicans can win the seat. They've done it before and they can do it again,” says talk radio’s Kevin Wall.

For Republicans, another name has been mentioned: former Congressman Cresent Hardy, whom Kihuen defeated in November 2016 by four points. A Hardy spokesperson says the former congressman had no comment.

“I don’t believe Cresent’s going to run,” Anthony told me today. “He’s actually having a great time with his small business in Mesquite.”

Democrats look at 2018 and say they have momentum: see the Senate race in Alabama, they say, and the Governor's race in Virginia before that.

“This is a diverse and Democratic-leaning seat where we have a proven track record of winning,” says Stewart Boss, a spokesperson for the Nevada Democratic Party, adding, “Republicans are grappling with a toxic national environment driven by their massively unpopular agenda in Washington.”

In the 4th, it will be up to voters like Malik Moore, who was getting ready for the afternoon rush at his barbershop on a stretch of North Las Vegas Boulevard that has seen better days.

“I would think that the next person that would come in will sincerely look at the drug epidemic. Just the conditions that people live in. This is a forgotten part of town,” Moore told me.

Which he hopes will not be forgotten, by whomever the 4th sends to Washington, next time.

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