(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Assembly Speaker and announced candidate for Congress John Oceguera acknowledged today that a number of Democrats are seeking seats in the House of Representatives in the 2012 election, and that hopefully any costly primary battles can be avoided.
Oceguera, who announced in July he will run as a Democrat for Congress despite the fact that lines for what will ultimately be four districts remain theoretical only, said a primary battle between two Democrats for one or more of the seats would not be beneficial.
While unlikely, a primary battle is a possibility and Oceguera said he is prepared for such a scenario. But a primary would not help any of the candidates, and hopefully could be avoided “in the spirit of cooperation,” he said.
Former Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., has announced she intends to run again for a seat in Congress. State Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, is also an announced candidate. State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford and state Sen. Ruben Kihuen, both D-Las Vegas, are also potential candidates for one of the seats.
Oceguera made his comments during an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.
The district lines remain undecided because the Legislature failed to approve a redistricting plan based on the 2010 census that met with approval of both Democrats and Republicans. Two Democrat plans were vetoed by GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval. The issue is now in front of Carson District Judge James Todd Russell with no clear timetable on when it will be resolved. It will likely end up before the Nevada Supreme Court.
Oceguera said he does not know what district he will end up in, but that he may have to face Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., who represents the 3rd Congressional District. Heck is a freshman who defeated Titus in the 2010 election.
Oceguera, who lives near Heck in Clark County, said he is not concerned with the possibility of facing an incumbent in his congressional run. Oceguera, who is termed out of the state Assembly, is a North Las Vegas firefighter, attorney and fourth generation Nevadan, born in Fallon.
Heck’s district has elected both Republicans and Democrats, he said.
“Where ever I end up, as far as where the maps are drawn, is where I will run,” Oceguera said
Oceguera announced his intention to run in July, saying it would be too late to mount a competitive campaign if he waited until the redistricting issue is decided. While fundraising is difficult in such an uncertain situation, waiting until the 2012 filing period next spring is unworkable, he said.
Oceguera said it will take between $2 million and $3 million to run a competitive race, and that he expects to have about $250,000 by the first reporting period.
Oceguera said he is running on his legislative record, including job creation efforts in the 2011 session, and on his history of hard work and desire to seek compromise on issues facing the state.
“It is something we’re sorely missing in Washington, DC, right now,” he said.
Oceguera said he and his fellow lawmakers fulfilled their promises in the 2011 legislative session.
“We said we were going to cut – we did, we cut,” he said. “We said that we were going to reform – we did, we reformed. We said that we were going to balance our budget – we did, we balanced our budget. And we said we were going to end on time and we did that as well. So I think that is a pretty strong record in the last legislative session.
“I’ve been strong on education, I think I’ve been strong for business,” Oceguera said. “I don’t know that that’s all I will run on, but I think my legislative record is solid.”