Not even the backing of President Donald Trump could score former Fresnan Danny Tarkanian his first political win.
Tarkanian, a Republican who adopted much of Trump’s “America First” platform, fell to Democrat Susie Lee for Nevada’s District 3 seat in the House of Representatives last week.
Lee, an education and homeless advocate, captured 51.9% of the vote. Tarkanian won over 42.8% of voters in a district that is just about evenly split in party registration.
In addition, three minor party candidates appeared on the ballot.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed with the results. We thought we ran a good race. It wasn’t the outcome we thought it would be,” Tarkanian told the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Tarkanian said that attack ads against him cost him the race: “Obviously people bought into that and believed it. It’s unfortunate that that’s how politics works.”
Seventh Campaign Loss for Tarkanian
Tarkanian, 56, has run for office seven times. He lost a bid for the Nevada’s District 3 to Jacky Rosen in 2016 by about 1 percentage point — even while Trump carried the district.
Lee enjoyed a fund-raising edge in the campaign, which attracted national attention after Trump convinced Tarkanian to abandon his primary challenge of incumbent U.S. Senator Dean Heller, a Republican, and jump into the congressional race.
Rosen, a Democrat, knocked Heller from his Senate seat by a 5 percentage point margin Tuesday night.
Big Difference in Immigration Platforms
Tarkanian drew a sharp contract between himself and Lee on immigration.
While Tarkanian stuck with Trump’s hard-line policies, Lee promised to fight for “Dreamers” and oppose the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border. This policy difference likely helped Lee in a district where 14 percent of registered voters are Hispanic.
Tarkanian, who is an attorney and real-estate investor, previously lost bids for the Senate, House of Representatives, state Senate and Nevada secretary of state.
Amy Tarkanian said her husband stood by Trump even while others abandoned the president.
“I pray to God the president takes a look at what happened here,” Amy Tarkanian said, “Because this man was loyal to him.”
Tarkanian, a former Fresno State assistant basketball coach, is the son of legendary college basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian. The elder Tarkanian died in 2015.
Danny Tarkanian’s mother, Lois, was a Las Vegas city councilwoman, an educator and a co-founder for California’s first private school for the deaf.