No leaning between GOP and Democratic candidates for Nevada governor

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Five years ago, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and Joe Lombardo united in the national spotlight, launching a fund that raised millions of dollars for the victims of the Las VEGAS mass shooting. deadliest in modern U.S. history on the Las Vegas Strip.

Sisolak, a Democrat, was at the time chairman of the powerful Clark County Commission, the elected body with jurisdiction over Las Vegas. He praised Lombardo, the elected nonpartisan Clark County sheriff and chief of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Nevada’s largest police agency.

There are no fond words now, with Sisolak seeking a second term as governor and Lombardo, with the backing of former President Donald Trump, leading a Republican bid to unseat him in a key partisan race drawing attention national.

“They want the same elected office – so friends become antagonists,” observed Fred Lokken, professor of political science at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno.

As the days approach Election Day on Nov. 8, polls generally show the race is tight between Sisolak and Lombardo. High-pitched, strident advertisements funded by parties, political action committees and campaigns blame each candidate for a range of ills.

Sisolak supporters point to crime in Las Vegas during Lombardo’s tenure as sheriff and cite Lombardo’s staffing decisions in a department with about 6,000 employees.

Lombardo acknowledges that crime has increased over the past two years, but says he made the most of what he could with the funding and mandates of a Democratic-controlled legislature.

Lombardo supporters point to a investigation by ProPublica, published in May, examining the hiring of a Chicago-based coronavirus testing company, Northshore Clinical Labs, which missed 96% of positive cases from the University of Nevada campus in Reno.

In a debate with Lombardo earlier this month, Sisolak denied wrongdoing, defended Northshore’s fast-track state license to expand testing capacity, and noted the company was licensed by the federal government and other states.

Some issues in Nevada echo those in the 35 other states with gubernatorial races on this year’s ballot: abortion; the performance of President Joe Biden; supporting or opposing Trump; and the economy, including inflation and housing costs.

Unemployment in Nevada has led the nation and peaked at over 28% in June 2020, after Sisolak shut down non-essential businesses, including casinos, during the pandemic. He bounced back to 4.4% in August. The state has some of the highest gasoline prices in the country, according to AAA.

Lokken called it a “joyful mess of issues,” many of which are complex and difficult for voters to follow.

Both candidates say they want to improve education in a consistently ranked state at the bottom or near the bottom in funding and performance with high student-teacher ratios. Both say teachers should be paid more.

The powerful Clark County Teachers Union, which backed Sisolak in 2018, announced this month that it would not support this election. Bids to break up Clark County’s sprawling school district, with more than 300,000 students, have stalled.

Lombardo said he favors school choice, which would help parents send their children to private schools at public expense. Sisolak said he did not want to divert funds from public schools to private schools.

The candidates also clashed over the enactment of a state-run public health insurance option passed by the Legislature and signed by Sisolak. Lombardo, during a primary campaign event, used a swear to ridicule him as bad policy.

“The economy is going to be the big driver,” Lokken predicted, but other issues such as abortion and the COVID response will contribute to that. “Neither side takes ownership of the economic issue and both are contributing to the fracturing of the economy.”

Nearly a third of Nevada’s 1.8 million active registered voters are Democrats, or about 593,000, most of them living in Las Vegas and the Reno area. Nearly 543,000 voters are registered as Republicans and nonpartisan in total nearly 531,000.

Sisolak and Lombardo claimed victory after the Oct. 2 debate, their only face-to-face meeting, during which Lombardo wavered when asked if Trump was “a great president.”

“I wouldn’t say awesome,” Lombardo replied. “I think he was a good president.”

Later that day, Lombardo’s campaign released a statement calling Trump “a great president and his accomplishments…among the most significant in American history.”

The following weekend, appearing with Trump at a Republican campaign rally at a northern Nevada airport, Lombardo doubledcalling Trump “the greatest president” and playing the GOP grassroots with a claim that Sisolak, if re-elected, “will chase your guns.”

Sisolak pledged during his 2018 campaign — in the months after the Las Vegas shooting killed at least 58 people and injured hundreds — to ban assault rifles, silencers and “bump” adapters. stock” which allow rapid fire.

As governor, he signed gun safety measures passed by the Democratic-led Legislature in 2019, including a ‘red flag’ law allowing people to ask judges to order the temporary surrender of a gun from someone deemed a threat to themselves or for others. A federal ban on bump stocks remains in effect after the US Supreme Court this month refused to take a challenge.

On abortion, Lombardo walked a tightrope, saying he would govern through a “pro-life lens” while acknowledging that Nevada voters in 1990 approved a referendum allowing the procedure up to 24 weeks from now. pregnancy.

“This is a question that does not need to be in politics”, he said during a campaign appearance in September.

Sisolak is a strong proponent of abortion rights and has said that if re-elected he will ask the Legislature to codify an order he has signed which protects in-state providers and out-of-state patients.

“I unequivocally support a woman’s right to choose,” he said during the debate. “Her health care decisions are between her and her doctor.”

Democrats nationwide have focused on the issue of abortion since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June overturning Roe v. Wade, a decision that for nearly 50 years guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion.

Through the end of June, campaign finance reports showed Sisolak had raised about twice as much money in the race as Lombardo. The two had over a million dollars to spend.

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Associated Press writer Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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