RENO, Nev. – Nevada voters picked candidates for governor Tuesday in a wide-open and sometimes-zany pair of primaries to replace popular Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn, and former President Jimmy Carter's son Jack sought the Democratic nomination for Senate.
Guinn, who is leaving office after eight years because of term limits, did not groom a hand-picked successor, locking candidates from both parties in brutal primary contests that included offbeat personal attacks using sock puppets, "Star Wars" parodies and Internet close-ups of an elephant's behind.
Five-term Rep. Jim Gibbons was the favorite in the Republican gubernatorial primary, and his wife was among the Republican candidates seeking his congressional seat.
Gibbons, a former military pilot, gave one of his Republican rivals some ammunition when he told a newspaper that he used his state Assembly office to get rehired by Delta Air Lines. (Gibbons says he misspoke.)
Las Vegas state Sen. Bob Beers responded with an Internet ad starring a sock puppet in a little suit and tie. "Hi there, I'm Congressman Gibbons," the sock puppet says. "I shook down Delta Air Lines."
Gibbons was trying to hold off Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt and Beers. Long shots in that race include a former porn star, Melody Damayo, who performed under the name Mimi Miyagi.
On the Democratic ballot, state Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus and Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson waged a bitter battle for the chance to try to succeed Guinn.
Titus accused Gibson of latent Republicanism and created a Web site that included a close-up of an elephant's behind. Gibson responded by sending out a Web cartoon of his opponent wielding a "Star Wars"-style light saber and succumbing to the pull of the Dark Side.
In the Senate race, Jack Carter was expected to win the Democratic nomination to face Republican Sen. John Ensign in November. Tessa Hafen, former press secretary to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, was favored in the Democratic congressional primary for the seat held by Republican Rep. Jon Porter.
In the Republican race for Gibbons' congressional seat, former state Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons was up against Secretary of State Dean Heller and Assemblywoman Sharron Angle. Jill Derby, an 18-year member of the state Board of Regents, was the lone Democrat seeking Gibbons' seat.
Election officers posted notices at the polls to make sure voters knew former state Comptroller Kathy Augustine died last month, even though her name remained on the ballot for state treasurer. If she wins the Republican nomination, it would be the first time that a dead person has won a primary for a statewide office in Nevada history.