Anti-Mask Lawmaker Who Participated in Jan. 6 March Announces Congressional Run

Annie Black, a Republican lawmaker in the Nevada state legislature who was at the January 6 riot and was censured for not wearing a mask in the Statehouse is running for a U.S. House seat.

The assemblywoman from Mesquite, Nevada, said Tuesday she will run against Representative Steven Horsford in the state's 4th Congressional District.

Black defeated three-term incumbent Chris Edwards in the 2020 Republican primary for her current seat in District 19 before running unopposed in November 2020, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Black confirmed she was in attendance at the march in Washington, D.C., on January 6, although she claims she left when barricades around the Capitol were breached. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee argued, however, that she is an unfit candidate for office because she was there to begin with.

"Annie Black is a far-right extremist who was roundly condemned by Nevadans for taking part in the January 6 attack on our nation's Capitol. It is a dog whistle and further proof of her extremist agenda that she would announce her campaign during the anniversary week of the insurrection," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Johanna Warshaw said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.

Black and another Republican lawmaker, Jill Dickman, were punished by their colleagues last May for removing their masks during a session and refusing to put them back on, violating a rule that unvaccinated people had to wear masks in the Statehouse, the Review-Journal reported. Black and Dickman both denied an opportunity to confirm their vaccination status during the session, which led to the consequences including a censure for Black and Dickman's removal from the Assembly chamber.

Nevada, Annie Black, US House, January 6
A Nevada lawmaker who attended the Washington, D.C., march on January 6 and has been censured for refusing to wear a mask during Assembly sessions announced her campaign for a U.S. House seat on Tuesday. Above, a voter receives a Las Vegas Strip-themed "I Voted" sticker after voting at the Galleria at Sunset Mall on November 6, 2018, in Henderson, Nevada. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The district, which contains minority-majority urban areas and rural ranching counties north of Las Vegas, traded hands between Republicans and Democrats over the last decade. The redrawn district maps passed by Nevada lawmakers last year put more Democrats in the newly drawn congressional district, which Biden would have won by 8.5 percentage points.

Black said in a statement that her campaign would be focused on economic issues, including small businesses and Nevada's high unemployment rate. She blamed President Joe Biden and Horsford for "destroying our state and bankrupting Nevadans."

Her announcement also referenced her opposition to mask mandates in the Statehouse.

"As Governor Sisolak and the state legislature handed down mask mandates, Annie took a stand on the Assembly floor and was censured by Democrats for refusing to wear a mask and provide a vaccine passport," it said.

Nevada has a mask mandate for indoor public places in most counties, but allowed lawmakers who provided proof of vaccination to go maskless in the Statehouse last spring. It also has carved out exemptions for vaccinated guests at large events like professional sporting events, concerts and trade shows. Sisolak has implemented state mandates as emergency measures and executive orders.

Debates over mandates will likely return to the forefront as a variant-fueled surge sweeps the state. The number of new cases reported daily has steadily risen in recent weeks and state officials reported a 14-day moving average of 1,896 new daily cases on Tuesday.

Black is set to run against several Republicans in the June 2022 primary, including 2020 candidate Sam Peters, a retired Air Force officer; Jessie Vargas, a former professional boxer; and Chance Bonaventura, an aide to Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore.

Horsford defeated former Assemblyman Jim Marchant by 4.4 percentage points in 2020, but Democrats worry that low voter turnout and historic trends favoring the minority party in midterm election years makes the district vulnerable.

The online Nevada Current reported in December that Congresswoman Dina Titus, a Democrat who represents Nevada's 1st Congressional District, warned union members at an AFL-CIO town hall there was a chance all three Democrats representing Nevada in the U.S. House of Representatives could be defeated in 2022.

"Republicans are going to turn out, and they are excited," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.