Nevada State Sen. Steven Horsford Is Officially Running for Congress

The Black lawmaker hopes to become his state’s first Black Congressman.

Posted: 10/14/2011 10:37 AM EDT

America loves an up-from-the-bootstraps story and Nevada state Sen. Steven Horsford, who formally announced on Thursday plans to run for Congress, has one in spades. Horsford, 38, reportedly became the man of his house at age eight because his mother struggled with drug addiction; his father was gunned down when he was 19. He worked at Pizza Hut and at kennels while in high school to help care for his three younger siblings. In addition, Horsford was forced to drop out of the University of Nevada-Reno due to family obligations, but ultimately earned his degree.

 

Today, he is Nevada’s Democratic majority leader, the first African-American to serve in that position and only the fourth African-American to serve as a state senator since 1864 when Nevada’s legislature first convened. If he wins his congressional bid, he will become the state’s first Black congressman.

 

"I am running to be your voice and your congressman in this district," Horsford said at his campaign kickoff, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. "Too many Nevada families are feeling like my family did when I was a kid. I've been there, too, and that's why I will never stop working for Nevada families."

 

Nevada is still redistricting, but Horsford, who also is the CEO of the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas, is expected to run in a district that includes the state’s urban core, but will still have to win the support of white voters. Blacks in Nevada make up eight percent of the population, according to the latest census.

 

Horsford, now in his third term, has earned a reputation for being a charming but tough negotiator, and battled Republicans to protect funding for education, health care services and job creation. He says he wants to build on those accomplishments in Washington.

 

He has deep ties in the Democratic Party and was co-chair of President Obama’s 2008 campaign in Nevada. Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver met with Horsford in Las Vegas this summer and is excited by the prospect of him coming to Washington.

 

“He is a bright and articulate young man who’s going to generate a lot of support from around the country and hopefully the CBC political action committee. As young as he is, he already has tremendous experience and presence,” said Cleaver. “He is a man who is going somewhere. He’s already legislatively sharp and understands the system well. The only question is will he be able to raise enough money in a race where a lot of money’s going to be spent.”

(Photo: Ethan Miller/GettyImages)

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