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Tarkanian's new challenge: emerge from field of 11 republicans

Tarkanian files for CD3 race.png

So long, US Senate.

Hello, Congressional District 3.

After he filed on Friday, Danny Tarkanian told me he likes his chances fighting on turf he knows well.

“I lost this race by one percent in the last election, the closest anybody had in the state of Nevada,” said Tarkanian. “It's a race I feel very confidently I'll win.”

RELATED | Tarkanian switches from Senate to House race after Trump asks for Heller to run unopposed

You'd be calling him “congressman,” if not for the fact Democrat Jacky Rosen got 3,900 more votes in 2016. So, he's back running in CD3, which stretches over the southern half of Clark County. He joins a sprawling GOP field, with ten other candidates.

“Maybe some people will drop out,” said conservative podcaster Heidi Harris. “I mean, at some point, you have to, because Danny's got the recognition, clearly. He probably will win the primary.”

Don't tell that to Scott Hammond, who'sone of the other ten. I asked him if facing a well-known Republican who has President Trump's backing changes his game plan.

No, he said. Hammond, a State Senator, made education his signature issue in Carson City. He tells me he's in it to the primary.

“I'm gonna be that guy that goes out there and tells people with a positive message. This is what I'm gonna do. This is why I'm running,” Hammond said. “If it becomes ugly and messy, it's not gonna be me.”

Candidates who filed have until March 27 to drop out. Several other CD3 Republicans who are running were unavailable for comment.

Tarkanian is a loyal Trump supporter who spent months running for Senate. And when the president asks you to switch, "how do you say no to that?" Tarkanian asked me rhetorically on Friday.

The answer: you don't. But at conservative talk radio, host Pat Casale says the Senate switch could sour some voters.

“There’s a lot of people that were behind him 100% for the Senate and now he’s changing course,” Casale told me. “Danny had a lot of local and loyal supporters who feel duped.”

“When the President tells you, or hints, that you need to get out of the race, what choice did Danny have?” asks Harris, who also says the move could have consequences. “There may be people who, on the GOP side, will stay home and that’s a risk that they have to possibly lose that Senate seat.”

Telling Tark to switch reflects a party doing whatever it can to protect an endangered GOP Senate incumbent, Heller, and at the same time fielding a candidate in another race, Tarkanian, who almost won two years ago. If all goes the Republican way in November, it would be two wins for the price of one switch.

In the meantime, Tark's now in a new race on familiar ground. I asked Heidi Harris if his political prospects have improved.

“You know, I don't know. Because I do think he had a strong chance against Heller,” she said.

And now the White House bets he has an even stronger chance to go to Congress.

The primary is June 12.

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