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Nevada sets record with 5 appointments to state Legislature

Nevada broke a record this election cycle by having five openings in the Legislature before a regular session.

State law requires county commissioners to appoint replacements to the vacant seats, and they have been busy this month. The Clark County Commission appointed three lawmakers this week.

Six legislators were appointed before each of two special sessions, but having five new faces not chosen by voters for a regular session in Carson City is a first.

The five legislative vacancies were generated by:

■ Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, who resigned after he was elected attorney general.

■ Sen. Tick Segerblom, who resigned after being elected to the Clark County Commission.

■ Assemblyman Chris Brooks, who was appointed to replace Segerblom in the Senate.

■ Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz, who resigned and plans to run for the Las Vegas City Council.

■ Assemblyman-elect Dennis Hof, who died three weeks before winning his election.

The last time Nevada had so many appointments was the 2016 special session, which lasted five days. Six legislators were appointed, including Sen. Julia Ratti, who later won election to the seat. The state also had six appointments in 1958 before a two-day special session, according to the Legislative Counsel Bureau research library.

Political scientist Eric Herzik said it’s not unusual to have so many appointments, since lawmakers who seek one office while they hold another have a fallback if they lose.

“You don’t give up your seat and then run,” said Herzik, chairman of the political science department at the University of Nevada, Reno. “You want to have a safety net if you lose.”

Fourteen legislators ran uncontested in the Nov. 6 election. That means voters didn’t have a choice in the selection of 19 lawmakers in the general election.

But Herzik said the appointed legislators will eventually face voters, giving them incentive to work hard during their term.

“The person who is appointed is just as much a legislator as someone who won by a landslide or someone who won by one vote in a contested election,” Herzik said. “The person appointed to Ford’s seat will face voters in two years. They’ll have to make a connection with voters in the district and represent it well enough to run for re-election.”

The Clark County Commission this week appointed Brooks in Senate District 3 and Public Utilities Commission attorney Dallas Harris in Senate District 11. Commissioners from Nye, Lincoln and Clark counties on Friday appointed Gregory Hafen II to fill Hof’s Assembly District 36 seat.

Replacements for Brooks and Diaz in the Assembly have not been selected.

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