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Dems Lose Top NV Recruit

Nevada Democratic hopes of taking back a swing seat in Congress were dealt a blow yesterday when their top recruit abruptly withdrew from the race, citing family concerns. Robert Daskas, a former top prosecutor for Clark County, pulled out of the race Monday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Molly Ball reports today.

The Silver State's Third District, based in Henderson and suburban Las Vegas, has been one of Democrats' top targets in recent cycles. Republican incumbent Jon Porter won re-election in 2006 with just 48% of the vote, edging out a former top aide to Senator Harry Reid by just 4,000 votes despite outspending her by a two-to-one margin. President Bush carried the fast-growing district narrowly in 2004 after losing the seat by a slim margin in 2000.

Daskas' departure was unexpected, and fundraising, cited by several once-potential candidates this year, was certainly not the problem. He raised $233,000 in the First Quarter of 2008, leaving him with $453,000 in the bank. Porter raised $366,000 in the first three months of the year and retained $1.03 million on hand, an advantage, but hardly an overwhelming one.

Democrats have a backup candidate on hand, though she will start at an even steeper fundraising disadvantage given her late entry into the race. State Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, who came surprisingly close to winning the governor's mansion in 2006, said she is seriously considering the race, and that she has been in close contact with top Nevada and Washington Democrats.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was quick to add their support. "Dina Titus would be an excellent candidate with unparalleled experience and support from people in Nevada's 3rd congressional district," DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen said in a statement. "Her vision, strength, and ability to get things done for Nevada would make her a powerful voice for change."

The National Republican Congressional Committee hammered Titus for her loss two years ago, when she lost to Republican Governor Jim Gibbons by four points even after Gibbons was accused of improper behavior by a cocktail waitress. "Dina Titus should think long and hard before launching a second long-shot campaign. Two losses in a row would be career-ending for her," NRCC spokeswoman Julie Shutley said in a statement this morning. Ball, though, writes that Titus beat Gibbons in the Third District by two points.

Titus has said that a decision on her entry into the race will come by the end of the week. Porter, who has survived two close contests in recent years, has to be breathing better today, though Titus will prove no easy opponent. The incumbent has worked hard to keep his seat, and he is unlikely to be caught by surprise by Titus' challenge.