- Associated Press - Thursday, November 6, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Brent Jones acknowledged that a wave of voters discontented with Obama administration policies helped propel him to victory over his Democratic opponent, incumbent James Healey. But he also credits months of door-knocking, more than 600 signs placed in yards throughout District 35, and a slate of positive mailers discussing his plan for education and background as owner of a drinking-water business based in Las Vegas.

Jones was one of six Republican Assembly candidates who ousted their Democratic incumbent opponents Tuesday night, helping Republicans seize a wide majority in what was a deeply Democratic lower house that the GOP only dreamed of controlling days earlier. Few predicted the power of the Republican wave, including incumbents who apparently were caught off guard.

“I think my Democratic opponent didn’t think he had a problem and would win easily,” said Jones, who took 53 percent of the vote in a district that has 38 percent registered Democrats and 33 percent Republicans. “He wasn’t doing anything until the very end.”

Healey, who was elected in 2012, didn’t respond to requests for comment Wednesday. He was joined in defeat by well-funded Jason Frierson, who lost by half a percentage point to Republican John Moore. Moore reported raising only $800 during his campaign and was competing in a district with higher Democratic registration.

Two-term incumbent Richard “Skip” Daly lost his seat to Republican newcomer Jill Dickman, who garnered 55 percent of the vote, and three-term incumbent Paul Aizley lost to Republican Vicki Dooling, who took 56 percent of votes.

One-term Assemblyman Andy Eisen lost to Republican Derek Armstrong, who took 50 percent of the vote in a three-way contest that also included a Libertarian candidate. Fellow one-term lawmaker Lesley Cohen lost her swing District 29 seat to Republican Stephen Silberkraus, who won 55 percent of the vote.

“I felt there was a demand for real change,” said Silberkraus, who estimates he knocked on 10,000 doors during the course of about nine months. His district is 38 percent Democratic and 36 percent Republican by registration. “I saw there was a chance that we could tie, or by a miracle, pull ahead (in Assembly seats). I didn’t expect the turnout that we got.”

Daly, who lost to Republican Dickman, said he knew his district was a vulnerable one for a Democratic candidate. The loss of so many other Democratic Assembly seats was the bigger surprise, he said.

“We saw it all across the country,” Daly said. “It was a hard day for the Democrats. It’s just a reflection on the national situation, not necessarily problems (with local leaders).”

He said he’s concerned by some of the platforms of Republican candidates who won seats in the lower house. Several have signed a pledge to oppose any new taxes, while many highlight their opposition to Common Core, their desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and their preference for charter schools and vouchers programs over increasing education spending.

Those positions could put them at odds with more moderate Republicans, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, and hurt their chances in the 2016 presidential-year election, which is likely to draw more enthusiasm - and Democrats.

“Nevada really is a more purple to blue state,” said Daly, who’s not ruling out another run in the future. “Apathy caught up with everyone. But the other side is not foolish - they know they’ll be on precarious ground (in 2016).”

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