Steven Horsford

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Steven Horsford
Steven Horsford, official portrait, 116th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nevada's 4th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded byRuben Kihuen
In office
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2015
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byCresent Hardy
Majority Leader of the Nevada Senate
In office
February 9, 2009 – January 3, 2013
Preceded byWilliam Raggio
Succeeded byMo Denis
Member of the Nevada Senate
from the 4th district
In office
February 7, 2005 – January 3, 2013
Preceded byJoe Neal
Succeeded byKelvin Atkinson
Personal details
Steven Alexzander Horsford

(1973-04-29) April 29, 1973 (age 47)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Sonya Horsford
(m. 2000)
EducationUniversity of Nevada, Reno (BA)
WebsiteHouse website

Steven Alexzander Horsford (born April 29, 1973) is an American politician and businessman serving as the U.S. Representative for Nevada's 4th congressional district since 2019, previously holding the position from 2013 to 2015. A member of the Democratic Party, he served in the Nevada Senate, representing the 4th district, in Clark County, from 2005 to 2013. Horsford was the first African American to serve as Majority Leader (2009–2013) and the first African American to represent Nevada in Congress.[1] Horsford was defeated by a Republican opponent in 2014.[2] After the election he joined an international Las Vegas-based business and marketing consulting firm, R&R Partners,[3] for which he had worked before beginning his political career.[4] In January 2018, he announced that he would run in the midterm elections,[5] which he won in November 2018, defeating former Republican U.S. Representative Cresent Hardy in a rematch of their 2014 race.

Early life and education[edit]

Horsford was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. His mother, Pamela Horsford, came to the U.S. from Trinidad in her teens and gave birth to Horsford when she was 17. While attending Ed W. Clark High School in Las Vegas,[6] Horsford worked at Pizza Hut and at a veterinarian's office, where he cleaned kennels after hours.[7]

When Horsford was 19, his father, Gary Shelton, was killed. One report states that Shelton "was shot and killed at work by a man who had tried to rob the store" in North Las Vegas at which he worked as a cook,[7] while another report states that he "was killed in a drug incident."[8] After his father's death, Horsford temporarily returned home from the University of Nevada, Reno, where he had been studying political science and communications. Horsford returned to college the following year.[9][10] He received a degree from the University of Nevada, Reno, in 2014.[7]

Business career[edit]

Horsford was CEO of the Culinary Training Academy, a job training program.[11] He also served on the Southern Nevada Workforce Investment Board.[12] In 1996, he began working at R&R Partners in Las Vegas.[4]

Nevada Senate[edit]


In 2004, incumbent Democratic State Senator Joe Neal, from Clark County's 4th Senate district, decided to retire in order to run for a seat on the Clark County Commission. Horsford ran and defeated Republican Mabel Florence Lucier 72%–28%.[13][14] He became the fourth African American to serve as a State Senator since the Nevada Legislature first convened in 1864.[15] In 2008, he won reelection to a second term with 74% of the vote.[16]


Horsford served in six special sessions and four regular sessions of the Nevada Legislature. In February 2009, he assumed the position of Nevada Senate Majority Leader.[17]

In August 2011, Horsford appointed Senator Mo Denis to lead the caucus election efforts during for the 2012 election cycle.[18][19][20]

In November 2009, Horsford was caught by a Las Vegas television station illegally parking his SUV with his personalized license plate "State Senator 17" in a handicapped parking space at a park for six hours. Horsford's car was noticed by the mother of a disabled child. Horsford apologized, saying "There was no excuse, it should have never happened." He said that he had made a donation to a nonprofit group in the amount that he would have been fined had he been caught by a law enforcement official.[21][22]

In the summer of 2010, Horsford sent a fundraising letter from his PAC soliciting donations in exchange for private meals or receptions to meet with various Democratic legislative leaders and Senate committee chairs. Following criticism that the letter amounted to "pay to play," he discontinued the solicitation program and refunded all donations made in response to the letter.[23]

In 2011 web poker giant PokerStars treated Horsford to a trip to the Bahamas prior to the introduction of legislation that would benefit the online gaming industry.[24][25] Horsford personally reimbursed the full cost of the trip, but said, "It was productive. They made a good presentation."[24] Horsford received $37,500 in campaign contributions from PokerStars. Forty seven other Nevada legislators, including his subsequent opponent, Cresent Hardy, received contributions from PokerStars.[26] Horsford and some other legislators later returned the contributions.[27]

Committee assignments[edit]

In his last session in the Nevada Senate, he served as chair of the Senate Finance Committee and also served on the Senate Committee on Revenue and the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections.[17]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Horsford during the 113th Congress



In October 2011, Horsford announced he would run for Congress, but did not know at the time which district he would run in because the Nevada Legislature had not finished the redistricting maps.[28] He decided to run in the newly created 4th congressional district, which includes the northern portion of Clark County as well as all or part of the rural counties of Lincoln, White Pine, Nye, Esmeralda, Mineral and Douglas.[29][30]

Horsford was due to face former State Representative John Jay Lee in the Democratic primary. However, Lee dropped out in November, effectively handing the nomination to Horsford. He defeated Republican Danny Tarkanian in November by 50%–42%. Although Tarkanian won the rural counties in the district by margins of better than 2-to-1, Horsford carried Clark County, home to four-fifths of the district's voters, by 28,800 votes.[31]


Horsford was narrowly defeated by Republican challenger Cresent Hardy, who also lost re-election after a single term.[32]


Horsford announced in January 2018 that he would run to replace retiring incumbent Ruben Kihuen in Nevada's 4th congressional district. Kihuen declined to run for a second term following sexual harassment allegations.[5] Horsford won the June 2018 Democratic primary and went on to face Republican nominee Cresent Hardy in the general election.[33] In the November 2018 general election, Horsford defeated Hardy by eight points, avenging his 2014 loss. He was sworn in on January 3, 2019.[34]


Horsford ran for reelection and went up against Republican nominee Jim Marchant. In the November 2020 general election, Horsford defeated Marchant by five points, a narrower margin compared to his 2018 victory.


Horsford's two-year term began on January 3, 2013. He did not resign from the Nevada Senate as it would not be in session before the end of his term on February 4, 2013. He was a member of the House Progressive Caucus, and was the only caucus member who supported the September 30, 2013, continuing resolution that contained a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate.[35]

Political positions[edit]


Horsford was an original co-sponsor of H.R.15, which would have created a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.[36] He has said that Congress needs to address immigration as a whole, not just young people living in the country illegally. He said increased border security with Mexico and Canada was needed, but that a southern border wall would not solve the immigration problem, as reported the Las Vegas Sun in 2018.[7]

Impeachment of President Trump[edit]

On December 18, 2019, Horsford voted for both articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump, including abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.[37]

It has become apparent that President Trump is a continuing threat to our democracy and danger to our national security. He abused the power of his office for personal and political gain at the expense of our national security; he conditioned official acts—millions in military aid and a White House meeting—for his personal, political gain; and he attempted to cheat our democracy and corrupt our elections. And so today, I will vote in favor of the two articles of impeachment against President Trump. No one is above the law. Not even the President.[38]

Health care[edit]

Horsford "sees healthcare as a right, not a privilege." He believes that all Americans should have health care of the sort provided to veterans and senior citizens.[7]

Gun control[edit]

Horsford supports a gun control package that would include background checks, a ban on assault weapon and bump stocks, banning private sales and closing the gun show loophole, an increase in mental-health funding and programs to address bullying in schools. Asked in May 2018 about gun confiscation, he said, "I believe we have to be very careful under the Second Amendment not to take away someone’s right, but to be clear, assault rifles and weapons of war are not the same as other forms of weapons, and we need to be very careful and make a clear distinction."[36]

Federal lands[edit]

During his first term in Congress, Horsford worked on "an agreement that allowed for the designation of the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument and the designation of about 50,000 acres of wilderness in north-central Nevada." He does not support the transfer of federal land in Nevada to state control, saying, "Nevada hasn’t been able to properly fund education. How is it going to be able to manage 87 percent of public lands that are now currently managed by BLM, Forest Service and wildlife? Let’s be realistic about our priorities and let’s continue being partners."[36]


Horsford is a strong supporter of Israel and has described the controversy about the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem as "a distraction away from the important international issues we are right now faced with."[36]

Minimum wage[edit]

Horsford supports an increase in the federal minimum wage. In March 2014, as part of a "constituent outreach effort," he went undercover to help a UPS driver deliver packages, partly "to get a from-the-ground perspective of the working man and woman in Las Vegas" and partly "to argue for raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10."[39]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Other political activities[edit]

2008 presidential election[edit]

Horsford was active in arranging for Nevada to host the second national presidential caucus in 2008. He was an early supporter of Barack Obama's candidacy, co-chairing Obama's campaign in the state.[42][43]

National committees[edit]

Horsford was the national vice chairman of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and served as the Democratic National Committeeman for the State of Nevada.[44] He is a member of the Democratic National Committee's Change Commission and its Rules & Bylaws Committee.[45]

Career between House terms[edit]

In April 2015, Horsford resumed working at R&R Partners. As an officer of that company, he oversaw an effort to help MGM Resorts International ensure that it kept its word to officials in Prince George's County, Maryland, that at least half of the workforce for the MGM National Harbor in Maryland would be made up of residents of that county and that the MGM National Harbor would contract with minority-owned firms.[4]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Dr. Sonya Horsford, a professor of educational leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. They married in 2000 and have three children.[45]

He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.[46]

Horsford had six-way open heart bypass surgery in 2013 to treat a hereditary condition.[7]

In May 2020, Horsford acknowledged an affair with a former staffer of Senator Harry Reid. She said the relationship lasted from 2009, when she was 21 and he was majority leader in the Nevada state senate, until April 2020, but was sexual only during the periods 2009–2010 and 2017–2019.[47]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Steven Horsford – $4,800 in Political Contributions for 2008". Retrieved January 23, 2015.
  2. ^ Levinson, Alexis (March 19, 2015). "With Horsford Out, Nevada Democrats Look Down Line". Roll Call. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  3. ^ "R&R Partners". Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "MGM Resorts hires former Nevada congressman". Reno Gazette Journal. Associated Press. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Former Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford announces run for his old House seat". Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  6. ^ "HORSFORD, Steven". History, Art & Archives, United States House of Representatives. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Gonzalez, Yvonne. "Gun violence, health scare shape Nevada native's congressional bid". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  8. ^ Damon, Anjeanette. "For the record, Horsford has not graduated from UNR". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  9. ^ "Political Science Department | University of Nevada, Reno". Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  10. ^ Damon, Anjeanette (March 6, 2011). "For the record, Horsford has not graduated from UNR". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  11. ^ Witcher, T.R. (February 5, 2009). "Extremely even Steven". Las Vegas Weekly. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  12. ^ "Steven Horsford". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  13. ^ "NV Senate Clark District 4 Race – Nov 02, 2004". Our Campaigns. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
  14. ^ "Steven Horsford for US Congress". Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  15. ^ "Steven Horsford to run for U.S. Congress". The Nevada View. October 16, 2011. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
  16. ^ "NV State Senate – Clark 04 Race – Nov 04, 2008". Our Campaigns. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
  17. ^ a b "Nevada Legislature". Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  18. ^ "Steve Sebelius: Horsford Making a Congressional Move?". August 31, 2011. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  19. ^ McGrath, David. "Democrats wonder whether a nice guy can lead – Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 | 2 a.m." Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  20. ^ McGrath, David. "Donors signaling they want GOP to take over the state Senate – Friday, Jan. 20, 2012 | 2 a.m." Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  21. ^ "Senator Horsford speaks out about illegally parking in a handicapped spot". 13 Action News. Archived from the original on July 10, 2012. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  22. ^ francjmeyer. "Sen. Steven Horsford parked in handicap spot for hours – Elsewhere". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  23. ^ "Panel Determination" (PDF). In the matter of the request for opinion concerning the contduct of Steven Horsford. Nevada Commission on Ethics.
  24. ^ a b Ralson, Jon (April 7, 2011). "PokerStars took lawmakers to Bahamas, England before Internet gaming bill introduced". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  25. ^ Stutz, Howard (April 16, 2011). "Lawmaker targets PokerStars for role in Nevada politics". Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  26. ^ Ralson, Jon (April 18, 2011). "All but 15 lawmakers got PokerStars cash, report says; money being returned". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
  27. ^ "Horsford Announces Congressional Run, Says He Has "Very Effective" Campaign Team". Nevada News Bureau.
  28. ^ Myers, Laura (October 13, 2011). "Horsford pursues seat in Congress, vows to help Nevada families". Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  29. ^ United States House of Representatives, Nevada District 4 map
  30. ^ "Democrats Look to Pick Up Two Seats in Nevada". Roll Call. October 19, 2011. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
  31. ^ "Official Results as Canvassed by the Nevada Supreme Court". Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  32. ^ Horsford defeated by challenger, Cresent Hardy,, November 4, 2014; accessed November 23, 2014.
  33. ^ Todd, Camalot (June 13, 2018). "Old rivals Horsford, Hardy set for rematch in Congressional District 4". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  34. ^ "Nevada Election Results: Fourth House District". Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  35. ^ 'Who Crossed Over in the House?', Washington Post, Aaron Blake, 30 September 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  36. ^ a b c d Rindels, Michelle; Valley, Jackie. "Democrats vying for Kihuen's House seat pressed on gun confiscation, Obama deportation policies and more in debate". The Nevada Independent. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  37. ^ Panetta, Grace. "WHIP COUNT: Here's which members of the House voted for and against impeaching Trump". Business Insider.
  38. ^ "Congressman Steven Horsford Votes to Hold the President Accountable and Uphold Our Constitution". Representative Steven Horsford. December 18, 2019.
  39. ^ Myers, Laura. "Horsford works 'undercover' in Las Vegas – for the UPS". LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  40. ^ "Caucus Membrs". US House of Representatives. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  41. ^ "Members". New Democrat Coalition. Archived from the original on February 8, 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  42. ^ texex (June 8, 2008). "Early supporters of Obama stand to gain". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  43. ^ "Horsford, Steven A. (1973- )". Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  44. ^ Fiddler, Carolyn. "Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee". Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  45. ^ a b "Steven Horsford for US Congress". Archived from the original on March 19, 2012. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  46. ^ "About Theta Pi Lambda". Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  47. ^ Appleton, Rory (May 15, 2020). "Horsford admits to extramarital affair after podcaster discloses relationship". Las Vegas Review-Journal.

External links[edit]

Nevada Senate
Preceded by
William Raggio
Majority Leader of the Nevada Senate
Succeeded by
Mo Denis
U.S. House of Representatives
New constituency Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nevada's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Cresent Hardy
Preceded by
Ruben Kihuen
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nevada's 4th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Susan Wild
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Colin Allred