Representative Steven HORSFORD

YEARS 1973-
OFFICE Representative
STATE Nevada
WHICH CONGRESS SERVED 113th (2013-2015)

Representative Steven HORSFORD Biography

Elected as a Democrat to the Nevada state senate in 2004, Las Vegas native Steven Horsford quickly rose to become the states first African-American senate majority leader in 2008. Horsfords path-breaking career in state and local politics led to his 2012 election to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was the first African American to represent Nevada in Congress.Steven Horsford was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 29, 1973. He was the oldest of four children, and his parents struggled with drug addiction.1 His father was shot and killed when he was 19 years old, and afterward Horsford helped to raise his younger siblings.2 After graduating from Ed W. Clark High School in Las Vegas, Horsford attended the University of Nevada-Reno, where he took courses in political science but did not complete his degree.3 He married Sonya Douglass Horsford, an academic, and they have three children: Benjamin, Bryson and Ella.4As an undergraduate, Horsford earned college credit as an intern for the Nevada state assemblys education committee and campaigned for Governor Bob Millers reelection in 1994.5 He went on to work as a lobbyist in the state legislature.6 Horsford later became CEO of a Las Vegas nonprofit training institute for students interested in careers in the hospitality industry.7 In addition, he was president of a nonprofit community organization that focused on education, job training, and local economic development in Las Vegas.8In 2003, Horsford was elected Democratic national committeeman and represented the state at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.9 When Joe Neal, the first African-American minority leader in the Nevada state senate, decided against running for reelection later that year, Horsford entered the race to fill the vacant seat in the overwhelmingly Democratic 4th senate district, which encompassed North Las Vegas and its suburbs.10 He emerged from a five-way primary to win election with more than 70 percent of the vote.11In the state senate, Horsford promoted job training programs, implemented tax breaks for renewable energy companies, and encouraged government regulators to streamline the permit process for mining companies.12 In 2008, he was elevated to state senate minority leader and campaigned in support of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, and he once again represented Nevada as a committeeman at the Democratic National Convention.13 After Democrats regained control of the Nevada state senate in the 2008 election, Horsford became both the youngest senate majority leader in Nevada history as well as the first African American to hold that position.14Horsfords increasingly prominent role in Nevada state politics raised his profile in the Democratic Party. By 2010, he was named vice chair of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC). He also led the state budget negotiations for Democrats in 2009 and 2011, criticizing proposed cuts to education and social services.15By the 2012 election, Horsford was well-positioned to seek election to the U.S. House of Representatives. He chose to run in the newly created 4th District, which combined a large swath of the rural middle of the state with the densely populated environs of northern Clark County that included his state senate district.16 The new district had a Democratic voter registration majority, and was about 27 percent Latino and 16 percent African-American in 2012.17Horsford ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and faced Republican Danny Tarkanian in a contentious race. Outside money poured in to support Tarkanian, while organized labor backed Horsford.18 Horsford echoed the priorities of President Obama, supporting the Affordable Care Act and clean-energy jobs, while also championing the rights of immigrants.19 Horsford and Tarkanian battled over campaign finance and ethics issues, along with the role of the federal government in education policy, land management, and businesses regulations in Nevada.20 Despite polls showing Tarkanian consistently ahead of Horsford as late as October 2012, the Democratic majority in the district carried Horsford to victory with just more than 50 percent of the vote to Tarkanians 42 percent.21Horsford set upon an ambitious agenda at the beginning of his House career. His committee assignments included Homeland Security, Natural Resources, and Oversight and Government Reform. He joined the Congressional Black Caucus and the House Progressive Caucus, and advocated for comprehensive immigration reform, changes in federal land policy, and the effective implementation of the Affordable Care Act.22 In 2014, he was chosen to fill a vacant seat on the House Financial Services Committee, an appointment with a heavy workload that required him to give up his seats on every other committee except for Oversight.23During his first year in office, he underwent surgery for a heart ailment and struggled to navigate the divisive political climate that led to the December 2013 government shutdown.24 Frustrated by the slow pace of change in Congress, Horsford nevertheless continued to promote legislation designed to expand the use of public lands for economic development and to bolster employment opportunities for job seekers. He believed that his real-life experiences growing up in economic uncertainty gave him a unique perspective on employment issues and health care policies. I will never forget where Ive come from or [what] the people in my community continue to struggle with today, Horsford said.25In 2014, Horsford was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the House, losing a close general election race to Republican Crescent Hardy. Hardy received 48.5 percent of the vote to Horsfords 45.8 percent, with the margin of victory being roughly 3,600 votes.26 After leaving Congress, Horsford remained in Washington, D.C., and founded a consulting firm focused on diversifying corporate marketing strategies and hiring practices.27 Footnotes 1T.R. Witcher, Extremely Even Steven: Will Horsfords Calm Be Enough in Carson City? 5 February 2009, Las Vegas Weekly: n.p. 2Politics in America, 2014 (Washington, D.C.: CQ-Roll Call, Inc., 2013): 609. 3Anjeanette Damon, Surprise Tribute Honors Longest-Serving Assemblyman, 22 February 2009, Reno Gazette-Journal: 7A; Anjeanette Damon, For the Record, Horsford has not graduated from UNR, 6 March 2011, Las Vegas Sun: n.p. 4Politics in America, 2014: 609; Guy Clifton, Horsfords Investiture Historic for Silver State, 3 February 2009, Reno Gazette-Journal: 1A. 5Elizabeth White, Freshman Nevada Lawmaker Doesnt Shun Spotlight, 17 March 2005, Associated Press. 6Ibid; Laura Myers, Former Nev. Rep. Steven Horsford Wont Run for Congress in 2016, 18 March 2015, Las Vegas Review-Journal: B003. 7Politics in America, 2014: 609. 8Nevadas Delegates to the Democratic National Convention, 24 August 2008, Reno Gazette-Journal: A6. 9Nevada Democrats Elect Diverse Slate of State Officers, 20 May 2003, Associated Press. 10Witcher, Extremely Even Steven”; Cristina Silva, NV Democratic Majority Leader to Run for US House, 13 October 2011, Associated Press. 11Brendan Riley, Nevada Legislative Primaries Part of Anticipated Big Shake-up, 8 September 2004, Associated Press; Nevada State Secretary of State, 2004 Official General Election Results, 12Thomas Mitchell, Commentary: New Congressman Supports Rural Industries, 5 December 2012, Elko Daily Free Press (NV): n.p. 13Witcher, Extremely Even Steven; Nevadas Delegates to the Democratic National Convention, 24 August 2008, Reno Gazette-Journal: A6. 14Blake Neff, Horsford Overcomes Hurdles to Reach Hill, 18 November 2013, The Hill: 22. 15Silva, NV Democratic Majority Leader to Run for US House; Alexandra Berzon, Both Parties Surprised in Race for Nevada Seat, 1 November 2012, Wall Street Journal, at (accessed 20 December 2016); Guy Clifton, Budget Deal Called ˜A Proud Day for Nevada, 2 June 2011, Reno Gazette-Journal: n.p. 16Sandra Chereb, Tight Race for Nevadas New 4th Congressional Seat, 31 October 2012, Associated Press; Mye
rs, Former Nev. Rep. Steven Horsford Wont Run for Congress in 2016. 17Ken Ritter, Nevada Congressional Hopefuls Clash in PBS Debates, 12 October 2012, Associated Press. 18Sandra Chereb, Nevada House Races Bring in Big Bucks from Outside, 17 October 2012, Associated Press. 19Berzon, Both Parties Surprised in Race for Nevada Seat. 20Karoun Demirjian, Horsford-Tarkanian Bout for Congress Dominated by Debt Issues, 18 October 2012, Las Vegas Sun: n.p. 21Ibid; Almanac of American Politics, 2014 (Washington, D.C.: National Journal Inc., 2013): 1049; Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives, Election Statistics, 1920 to Present. 22Steve Falcone, Approval of Lands Bill is a Welcome Step Forward, 30 January 2014, Reno Gazette-Journal: A6; Andrew Doughman, After a First Year Filled with Hurdles, Horsford Touts Accomplishments, 12 January 2014, Las Vegas Sun: n.p.; Tom Howell, Jr., Nevada to Ditch State-Run Exchange for, 21 May 2014, Washington Times: n.p.; Karoun Demirjian, Titus, Horsford Urge President to Stop Deportation of Undocumented Immigrants, 27 January 2014, Las Vegas Sun: n.p. 23Horsford Gets Focused, 17 June 2014, The Spectrum (St. George, UT): 1; Karoun Demirjian, Nevadas Steven Horsford Named to Powerful U.S. House Committee, 2 April 2014, Las Vegas Sun: n.p. 24Doughman, After a First Year Filled with Hurdles, Horsford Touts Accomplishments. 25Neff, Horsford Overcomes Hurdles to Reach Hill. 26Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives, Election Statistics, 1920 to Present. 27Myers, Former Nev. Rep. Steven Horsford Wont Run for Congress in 2016. View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

External Research Collections


Steven HORSFORD Committee Assignments

Congress divides legislative work into committees where bills usually originate. Committees are specialized by subject and hold hearings, prepare bills for the consideration of the entire House, and regulate House procedure.
House Committee – Homeland Security House Committee – Natural Resources House Committee – Oversight and Government Reform
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