Democrat Steve Horsford, a veteran Nevada legislator and higher education administrator, became the first African American to represent the state in the U.S. Congress in a closer than expected victory over the son of a famous college basketball coach.

Horsford won a close election against Republican Danny Tarkanian for the state’s House of Representatives’ seat in Nevada’s new fourth district, the largest district with the highest percentage of African American voters, stretching across central Nevada from Las Vegas to south of Reno.

A native of North Las Vegas who attended the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, he has been regarded as a political rising star in the state. He was elected to the state senate in 2004 and became majority leader of that chamber in 2008.

“My roots are in this district,” Horsford said in his victory speech, according to The Las Vegas Sun. “My life story is contained in its boundaries. This community has stuck with me during tough times. When I lost my father to a gunshot, when my family was struggling… When I needed help the most, my community was there for me.  That’s why when I run for office; it’s never been about me, it’s been about all of us.”

Horsford beat Takanian receiving 50 percent to 42 percent of the votes on Nov. 6. Although Horsford was the projected leader, Tarkanian, son of famed UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian and Las Vegas councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, still believed he had a chance of winning.

“Loss is always difficult, this one especially,” Tarkanian told The Las Vegas Sun.  “I was a little surprised by the outcome.”

Brittany Buchanan

Special to the AFRO