As the results for the midterm election pour in, Democrats appear to be maintaining control of the Legislature, where they may have a hoped-for supermajority in the Assembly but not in the Senate.  

Coming into the midterm elections, Democrats controlled 12 of 21 state Senate seats and 26 of 42 seats in the Assembly. 

As of last Thursday afternoon, based on projected victories, Democrats will hold at least 24 seats while Republicans hold at least 14 seats in the Assembly. On the Senate side, where some seats were not up for election, projections indicate that Democrats will hold at least 12 seats (6 of the 11 seats up for election this cycle) and Republicans will hold at least eight seats (4 of the 11 seats on the ballot). However, one Senate race and four Assembly races are too close to call, meaning the number of seats held by Democrats and Republicans will continue to shift.

Those elected to office will represent their districts during the 2023 legislative session, starting in February. Not all Senate seats were up for election this cycle.

Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, who was not up for re-election, celebrated the projection that Democrats are likely to retain and grow their majority in the Senate despite facing “steep historical odds.”

Democrats shored up their advantages in swing districts after the state’s 2021 redistricting process, but based on projected race outcomes, they still fell short of the 28 seats in the Assembly and 14 seats in the Senate required for a two-thirds majority that could override vetos from the governor’s office or grease the wheels for any tax increases or procedural maneuvers requiring a supermajority vote.

Some of the closest races in the state Senate — which could see flipped seats — are Senate District 8, where incumbent Marilyn Dondero Loop narrowly trails Republican Joey Paulos after initial returns; Senate District 9, where incumbent Democrat Melanie Schieble is projected to fend off Republican Tina Brown; and Senate District 12, where Democrat Julie Pazina is projected to win against Republican Cherlyn Arrington in a race that will flip the Republican-controlled district blue.

Close races are also taking place in Assembly, including Assembly District 25, where Democrat Selena La Rue Hatch is projected to win against Republican Sam Kumar; Assembly District 35, where incumbent Democrat Michelle Gorelow is projected to defeat Republican Tiffany Jones; and Assembly District 37, where Democrat Shea Backus has a small lead over Republican Jacob Deaville.

With Republican Joe Lombardo projected to control the governor’s office, it’s likely there will be more tension surrounding negotiations, vetoes of legislation and less passage of progressive policies overall this upcoming legislative session than when Democrats held a trifecta of power. 

The 2017 legislative session may provide a glimpse into what those negotiations could look like. At the time, Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval held office while Democrats controlled both houses of the Legislature. At the end of that session, fierce negotiations resulted in a compromise — funding for existing Opportunity Scholarship recipients, similar to school choice vouchers, but no expansion of the program. However, Sandoval was known for working across the aisle, and it remains to be seen if Lombardo would do the same.

Though Republicans and Democrats maintain roughly the same number of seats they held coming into the midterms, 2022 saw significant turnover in the Assembly. Fourteen incumbents, a third of the Assembly’s 42 members, did not run for re-election, according to Ballotpedia, marking the highest rate of open seats since 2010. Cannizzaro is the only legislative caucus leader from 2021 returning to a top leadership position in 2023.

Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas), who is leading his Republican opponent by almost 4 points and more than 700 votes, is widely expected to be the next leader of the Assembly Democrats following former Speaker Jason Frierson’s (D-Las Vegas) confirmation to the post of U.S. Attorney. Yeager continually topped the list of fundraisers in the Legislature this election cycle.

With most Republican caucus leaders not returning to the Assembly, eyes are turning to newer members, such as freshman Assemblywoman Heidi Kasama (R-Las Vegas), to take the reins. 



Assembly

In Northern Nevada’s Assembly District 25, which covers much of southwestern Reno, teacher-union-backed educator Democrat Selena La Rue Hatch is projected to win. She is currently leading by more than 7 points (2,272 votes) against well-funded Republican former Washoe Republican Party Chair Sam Kumar. 

If she maintains the lead, La Rue Hatch will flip the district formerly held by Assemblywoman Jill Tolles (R-Reno), who announced in October that she would not be running for re-election.

Following redistricting, the formerly red district carries a slight blue edge, and would mark one of the most significant Assembly seats to flip to Democrats.

Kumar was endorsed by former attorney general and Republican Senate nominee Adam Laxalt. 

After a hard-fought battle in Southern Nevada’s Assembly District 35, incumbent Assemblywoman Michelle Gorelow (D-Las Vegas) is slightly ahead of Republican Tiffany Jones, leading by less than  1 point and 114 votes.

A medical device company executive and former owner of a specialty bakery, Jones ran unsuccessfully for Assembly District 35 in 2016 and for state Senate District 9 in 2018. Libertarian candidate Mindy Robinson has gained about 872 votes, potentially taking votes away from Jones.

Though Republican Jacob Deaville outraised his Democratic opponent, Shea Backus, in the most recent quarter, Backus carries a slim 2 point lead (590 votes) in Southern Nevada’s Assembly District 37.

Backus was first elected to the seat in 2018. She held it for one term before losing it in 2020 to Republican Andy Matthews, who is running for state controller.