Synagogue president wins Democratic nod in suburban Las Vegas district


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The president of a Las Vegas-area synagogue handpicked by the Democratic Party leadership to run in a competitive congressional district won the primary.

Jacky Rosen, a software developer who helms Ner Tamid, a Reform synagogue in Henderson, Nevada, and the largest in the region, handily defeated her rivals in Tuesday’s primary in the 3rd Congressional District. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that she won over 60 percent of the vote in a six-way fight.

Rosen had little name recognition or political experience, but Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate’s minority leader and the boss of Democratic politics in the state, picked her to run and lent her the backing of his fundraising machine.

Reid, who is retiring this year, wants to leave a strong party representation in the state as one of his legacies, and the 3rd District, with an influx in recent years of Democratic-leaning Latinos, is seen as a likely Democratic pick-up now that its incumbent, Republican Joe Heck, is running for Reid’s open U.S. Senate seat.

One of Rosen’s rivals in the primary, a Jordan-born Muslim-American lawyer, Jesse Sbaih, stirred controversy when he said Reid refused to back him because the senator did not believe an Arab Muslim could be elected. Reid strongly denied the charge. Sbaih claimed to have better name recognition than Rosen, and had declared an interest in the seat long before anyone else.

Rosen now faces Danny Tarkanian, a businessmen who won the Republican primary, in the general election. Tarkanian is the son of the late Jerry Tarkanian, the popular and highly successful men’s basketball coach at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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