On November 2, 2010, Janine Hansen, the Constitution (Independent American) Party nominee for Assembly, 33rd district, received 30.43% of the vote and outpolled her Democratic Party opponent. This was the first time since at least 1920 that a minor party nominee for Nevada state legislature had outpolled one of the major party nominees, and the first time that one had polled over 30% of the vote in a race with both major parties.
One could say that in recent years, two Libertarian nominees for the Nevada legislature came closer to victory. In 1992 Tamara Clark polled 44.38% for State Senate in a race in a two-party race; and in 2000 James Dan polled 45.27% for Assembly in a two-party race. But, as noted above, Hansen was running in a 3-party race.
The 33rd Assembly district includes Elko and Humboldt Counties in northeastern Nevada. Hansen has been a frequent candidate for public office in the last decade. She ran for U.S. House in 2002 and polled 3.60%; she ran again for the same office in 2004 and polled 3.65%. In 2006 she was the Constitution Party’s nominee for Secretary of State, and polled 7.03%. In all of these races, she had opponents from both major parties. In 2008 she ran for State Senate and polled 34.75% in a two-party race. She spent years as a lobbyist at the State Capitol, which has given her the experience and knowledge of state government to be a credible candidate.
The Constitution Party affiliate in Nevada is called the Independent American Party, which was founded in 1968 in Nevada. In 2010, it won four partisan county elections in Nevada. It was also strong in the 1970’s. In 1974, one of its legislative nominees, Duane Porter, carried Pershing County, but Pershing County was only part of that district (the 37th Assembly district), and when the Humboldt County part of the district votes were added in, Porter came in third in the district as a whole.
No minor party has elected anyone to the Nevada legislature since 1914, when the Socialist Party elected one State Senator and one member of the Assembly. UPDATE: the Reno News & Review has this story, published January 13, about the party’s success in northeastern Nevada.