Races To Watch This Election Season
October 05, 2012

SAN DIEGO -- You’d be forgiven if you were under the impression that the only political race worth tracking was Obama versus Romney. But you’d be wrong. In fact, here in the Southwest, there are some fascinating political contests that will ultimately impact us a great deal more than the presidential race.

I dug into the southwestern political nitty-gritty -- in search of the candidates, campaigns and issues that reflect our changing region, our changing demographics and political stripes. Now I’ll outline some races in the three land-locked and somewhat swing states in our region, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. Next up, the outliers, California and Texas.

THE BIG STAKES

In races across the country, Democrats and Republicans are battling for control of Congress. Right now, of course, the Democrats control the Senate and at the helm is Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid. In contrast, the House is currently dominated by Republicans, the loudest of whom were voted in in 2010 on a platform of fiscal and social conservatism. Ergo, Washington political gridlock. So, some big stakes basic stats: in the Senate, the GOP needs four seats to gain control; in the House, the Democrats are hoping for 25 seats to wrest back that body from the GOP and the Tea Party.

NEVADA

In Nevada, the Senate race to watch is between Republican incumbent Dean Heller and Democratic upstart Shelley Berkley. Right now Berkley trails in the polls, and Heller has some