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Inside Politics

Porter holds on to keep Nevada seat

GOP incumbent beats former casino executive in 3rd District

Rep. Jon Porter, above, faced a tough challenge this year from Tom Gallagher.
House: NV 03 Updated: 5:32 p.m. ET
Porter 55%
Gallagher 40%
100% precincts reporting
Election Results Main Page

(CNN) -- Republican Rep. Jon Porter survived an early scare from Democratic challenger Tom Gallagher to hold his seat in Nevada's 3rd district.

With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Porter had 161,176 votes to Gallagher's 119,564, an advantage of 55 percent to 40 percent.

The Porter camp had a right to be a little nervous with the representative running for re-election in fast-growing Clark County, an area in which Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore outpolled Republican George W. Bush by just over 1,000 votes in the 2000 presidential election. Democrats also carried a narrow voter-registration edge over Republicans in the newly drawn district, 139,311 to 136,031, with another 52,817 registered independents.

Thus Porter's 2002 trouncing of Democrat Dario Herrera, 56 percent to 36 percent, was considered something of an aberration, resulting more from Herrera's shortcomings as a candidate than from Porter's strengths.

Former casino executive Tom Gallagher was a much more formidable candidate, with a well-stocked war chest giving him the ability to reach voters on TV.

Like many Democratic candidates running in swing districts, Gallagher tried to tag Porter as a rubber stamp for the Republican leadership in Congress. Gallagher ads claimed that Porter voted for tax breaks for companies that outsourced jobs overseas and companies that produce nuclear waste.

Porter effectively fought back with ads that attacked Gallagher as "a failed gaming executive from California who owns a home in Palm Springs." It also called him a former lawyer for "Big Oil, nuclear waste and the Saudi royal family" who "rented a home in Henderson so he could buy a seat in Congress."

Another ad hit Gallagher for laying off workers as a casino executive while getting a big buyout bonus. That ad ended with the tag line "Gallagher gets $12 million -- thousands of workers get laid off."

According to Republican insiders, the attacks had serious impact. A poll conducted for the Las Vegas Sun taken in late September showed Porter at 54 percent with Gallagher at 33.

Another survey of 300 voters conducted in mid-October for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and, gave Porter a similarly large lead. That survey showed the race as 50 percent to 35 percent in favor of the incumbent.

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