Jimmy Carter’s son wins Senate primary in Nevada

Jimmy Carter’s son, Jack Carter, won the Democratic nomination Tuesday to face Republican U.S. Sen. John Ensign in November in Nevada, where voters also picked candidates in a sometimes-zany pair of primaries to replace popular Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn.

Carter claimed 78 percent of the vote in early returns to defeat political unknown Ruby Jee Tun of Carson City, a middle school science teacher. Ensign won with 90 percent of the vote over Ed “Fast Eddie” Hamilton of Las Vegas, a former Chrysler Corp. supervisor.

Carter, an investor who moved to Nevada three years ago, said he’d use his extensive business and political contacts in the upcoming fight with Ensign.

“I was a member of the first family. I know a lot of the senators who are in office already. I’ve got business contacts around the country and around the world and those are the kind of things that I view as bringing something to Nevada,” he said.

Tessa Hafen, former press secretary for Nevada’s other senator, Democratic leader Harry Reid, won her party’s nomination to face incumbent Republican Rep. Jon Porter in the 3rd Congressional District.

Incumbent Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley beat political unknown Asimo Lawlor for her party’s nomination in the 1st Congressional District, which encompasses the core of Las Vegas. She next faces the winner of the GOP primary, Kenneth Wegner, a 2004 candidate for U.S. Senate.

The closest race was in Nevada’s sprawling 2nd Congressional District, where Secretary of State Dean Heller narrowly defeated State Assemblywoman Sharron Angle to win the GOP nomination. With less than 200 votes left to be counted, Heller had 24,771 votes, or 35.9 percent, to Angle’s 24,344, or 35.3 percent.

“This is sweet. It could not have been any closer,” Heller said.

The Angle campaign said it was weighing its options and would not concede until looking at the final counts in each county.

Longtime university system regent Jill Derby was unopposed in the Democratic primary for the 2nd District seat being vacated by GOP Rep. Jim Gibbons, who won the Republican gubernatorial nomination on Tuesday. His wife, former Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons, was seeking to succeed him in Congress but finished third in the GOP primary.

Guinn, who is leaving office after eight years because of term limits, did not groom a hand-picked successor, locking candidates from both parties in brutal primary contests that included offbeat personal attacks using sock puppets, “Star Wars” parodies and Internet close-ups of an elephant’s behind.

Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus and Jim Gibbons each won their party’s nominations to replace Guinn.

Gibbons, a former military pilot, gave one of his GOP rivals some ammunition when he told a newspaper that he used his state Assembly office to get rehired by Delta Air Lines. (Gibbons says he misspoke.)

Las Vegas state Sen. Bob Beers responded with an Internet ad starring a sock puppet in a little suit and tie. “Hi there, I’m Congressman Gibbons,” the sock puppet says. “I shook down Delta Air Lines.”

Gibbons managed to hold off Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt and Beers. Long shots in that race included a former porn star, Melody Damayo, who performed under the name Mimi Miyagi.

“It’s going to be a long campaign,” Gibbons said in his acceptance speech. “We’ve worked hard in every county. We’ve got a lot of work yet to do.”

Titus had accused rival Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson of latent Republicanism and created a Web site that included a close-up of an elephant’s behind. Gibson responded by sending out a Web cartoon of his opponent wielding a “Star Wars”-style light saber and succumbing to the pull of the Dark Side.

Republicans avoided a potentially embarrassing situation when they nominated another candidate to be state treasurer instead of former state Controller Kathy Augustine, who died last month yet remained at the ballot.

Mark DeStefano, a Las Vegas businessman, won the nomination. If Augustine had won the GOP nomination, it would have been the first time that a dead person has won a primary for a statewide office in Nevada history.


On the Net:

Nevada Secretary of State’s Web site: http://secretaryofstate.biz/ 

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