Democrat Dario Herrera and Republican Jon Porter each won nearly 69 percent of the vote and will face off in November to see who will be the first person to hold the seat in the new 3rd District, which was formed through reapportionment in the growing state and occupies an area on the south side of Las Vegas near McCarran Airport.
Herrera, chairman of the Clark County Commission, at the tender age of 28, and Porter, a 47-year-old insurance executive, had been considered the front-runners in their respective parties for the past several weeks, but polls have also shown the two candidates locked in a tight race in the Nov. 5.
With Congress currently divided nearly equally between Republicans and Democrats, the 3rd District was important enough to bring House Speaker Dick Gephardt to Las Vegas last week to stump for Herrera.
A Las Vegas Review Journal poll released on Friday indicated Herrera was gaining ground on Porter after being criticized by the Nevada Republican organization for a $42,000 no-bid contract for public relations work on behalf of the Las Vegas Housing Authority.
"It's a little tighter," Brad Coker, managing director for Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, told the Review-Journal. "There's some movement. Herrera has some more support among Democrats and independents, (and) with the ethics out of the news, maybe some Democrats have drifted back."
Porter, however, has his own baggage in the form of his insurance industry background in a state embroiled in an emotional controversy over medical malpractice insurance, the price of which the state's physicians complain has been driven out of reach by costly jury verdicts in medical malpractice lawsuits.
Meanwhile, the incumbents in Nevada's two current congressional districts are also up for re-election on Nov. 5.
Republican incumbent Jim Gibbons and Democrat and fellow Reno resident Travis Souza are already set for the November vote in the 2nd District due to a lack of primary opponents.
Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkeley will face Las Vegas City Councilwoman Lynette Boggs McDonald in the 1st District, who won 79 percent of the GOP vote Tuesday.
Gov. Kenny Guinn, who led the charge against the Bush administration's efforts to start the development of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, won 82.4 percent of the Republican primary vote. He will face Democrat Joe Neal, whose 36.6 percent was better than former exotic dancer Barbara Scott's 20.7 percent and the 24 percent that went to the choice marked "None of These Candidates."
A Review-Journal poll released Monday showed Guinn with a substantial lead over Neal, a 30-year veteran of the Nevada state Senate who has maintained a low profile in the capital and didn't even enter the race until May, largely due to the apparent paucity of candidates.
(Reported by Hil Anderson in Los Angeles)