Tiffany Jones, left, owner of Peridot Sweets in Las Vegas, takes an order for a wedding cake from Courtney Rolfsness on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018. Jones, a Republican, is one of nearly 50 women running for a seat in the Nevada Legislature. Nevada could become the first state to elect a female-majority legislature. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) Jones, Republican candidate for Nevada Senate District 9, is photographed at the Las Vegas Review-Journal offices on Wednesday, May 2, 2018. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal Scheible, a Democrat running for state Senate District 9, hugs Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas who is running for Attorney General, next to Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, (D-North Las Vegas), as results came in that showed she won at a Democrat primary election watch party at the Service Employee International Union‘s offices in Las Vegas, Tuesday, June 12, 2018. The primary election is the first vote in a crucial year that will see Nevada voters choose a new governor, new members of Congress and more. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal Torres, Democratic candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 3, is photographed at the Las Vegas Review-Journal offices on Monday, August 6, 2018. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal
After hand-crafting cake toppers and delivering hundreds of Golden Knights-themed cupcakes for a golf tournament, bakery owner Tiffany Jones’ day isn’t over.
The work is just beginning for Jones, one of nearly a dozen women running for the Nevada Senate this fall.
With less than two months to Election Day, the 38-year-old spent her Tuesday evening knocking on doors, passing out fliers and talking to voters. If she wins, Jones becomes part of history because Nevada could elect the country’s first female-majority legislature.
“I was very motivated to run because I felt like Carson City needed more small business owners in the Legislature, as we have unique day-to-day experiences that attorneys may not think of,” said Jones, a Republican running for the open District 9 seat against Democrat Melanie Scheible.
The 63-seat Legislature had a state-record 25 women in 2017 — eight in the 21-member Senate and 17 in the 42-seat Assembly — comprising 39 percent of the body. This year, 10 women are running for Senate and 37 are running for Assembly, setting the table for a huge swing. If 28 women are elected in November — four female senators are guaranteed to be in Carson City midway through their terms — history will be made.
“I think it’s fabulous,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said. “I think it’s great that women are encouraged to run, and successfully run in this state. I’ve had a lot of friendships with women legislators through the years and as a constitutional officer. That would be a proud day for our state.”
Women are guaranteed eight seats in the Senate because they’re incumbents not up for reelection, are running unopposed or competing against another woman — such as in Jones’ race. The path to a majority in the chamber is tougher, though, because females must win all three of their races against men.
In the Assembly, women are guaranteed 11 seats held by female candidates running unopposed or only women running. Another 20 seats have women running.
“Women will finally have an equal voice at the table,” said Lindsay Crete, deputy director of state and local campaign communications at EMILY’s List, an organization dedicated to electing pro-abortion-rights Democratic women. “It opens doors for every girl, every young woman who is wondering, ‘Can I serve in the statehouse? Do I belong there?’ The answer is, ‘yes’ and ‘I deserve that seat at the table.’”
Last year, Nevada had the third-highest percentage of women legislators in the country, but jumping to a possible majority has been a slow process. According to the Nevada voters elected just seven women to the 60-seat Legislature in 1975. It took 42 years for that number to crawl to the 25 women who served in 2017.
Advocates say women candidates were stirred by the election of President Donald Trump two years ago.
“I think there’s a direct correlation between what’s happening at the federal level and women across the country deciding to run for office — in many cases for the first time,” said Sen. Yvanna Cancela, a longtime champion for women’s rights, who is running unopposed. “We as a country forget sometimes that the rights women have were not given to them — they were fought for every step of the way. What we’re seeing at the federal level is a systematic dismantling of everything we fought for as women.”
One first-time candidate is high school English teacher Selena Torres.
The 23-year-old is running for Assembly District 3, a seat held by Nelson Araujo, who is running for secretary of state.
“I see firsthand the way policy affects our students and families,” said Torres, a lifelong Nevadan. “There’s a disconnect between policy and what goes on in the classroom. Often times legislators don’t understand the needs of teachers in the classroom.”
But having a swarm of Nevada women on the ballot isn’t enough, said longtime Las Vegas political consultant Lisa Mayo-DeRiso.
“Women have to show up and we have to vote,” Mayo-DeRiso said. “As women, we decide what groceries to buy, what cars to buy, we make decisions on our children’s clothing and our husband’s tie. Let’s make the decision on who we vote into our Nevada Legislature this year.”
Ramona Giwargis at or. Follow on Twitter.
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