Born: June 23, 1957
Family: Married, Peri Hardy; four children
Education: Attended Dixie State College
Career: General contractor and construction company co-owner; board member, assorted civic groups; Mesquite public works director, 1986-93
Elected Office: Nevada Assembly, 2011-present; Mesquite City Council, 1997-2002
In one of biggest blows to House Democrats, Republican state legislator Cresent Hardy defeated well-financed 4th District Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford after taking advantage of growing discontent with President Obama and describing himself as a “constitutional conservative.”
A fifth-generation Nevadan, Hardy was raised in the rural community of Mesquite, where he worked on his father’s ranch. He attended Dixie State College in St. George, Utah, and went on to serve in a range of positions in the city and Clark County. He worked as director of public works for Mesquite from 1986 to 1993 and served on several boards overseeing the water district and regional flood-control district. In 1996, he won a seat on the Mesquite City Council that he held until 2002.
Hardy easily won election to the Nevada Assembly in 2010, campaigning against the “tax-and-spend” policies of the Democratic-controlled Legislature, and became assistant minority leader in 2013.
In the June GOP primary to challenge Horsford, Hardy defeated tea-party activist Niger Innis, but early in the general-election campaign against Horsford he struggled to raise money. He also suffered from a series of gaffes, including repeating Mitt Romney’s unpopular comment that 47 percent of the country relied on government assistance. Earlier in the year, he said he opposed the U.S. Senate-passed Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would bar workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. He said the measure amounted to a “segregation” law and “puts one class of person over another.”
Yet he continued to speak about his support for a flat tax and comprehensive immigration reform as he campaigned against first-termer Horsford, who had been seen by his party as a rising star. Two weeks before Election Day, Republicans began early voting in large numbers and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a super PAC with ties to conservative strategist Karl Rove, spent $1 million advertising against Horsford.
In the final days, Hardy sought to emphasize Horsford’s ties to Obama; in his own campaign ad, Hardy featured audio from Horsford’s radio ad in which Obama credits the Democrat’s work on the Nevada economy. He aired it in rural areas of the district where he wanted to boost voter turnout. Labor unions hit the streets in the days leading up to the election to campaign on Horsford’s behalf, but it proved to be too little too late.
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