Nevada

Republican Joe Lombardo will defeat Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, CNN projects



CNN

Republican Joe Lombardo, Clark County’s popular sheriff, is set to defeat Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak after arguing he hadn’t done enough to get the economy going after the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic bring to.

Nevada has been a battleground state since the early 1990s, but Joe Biden narrowly achieved victory in the Silver State in 2020, despite significant efforts from Donald Trump, particularly in rural Nevada. Democrats have gained competitive races in recent years, relying in part on attracting working-class and Latino voters, two key constituencies in a state heavily dependent on tourism and the hospitality and service industries.

But those two constituencies were among the hardest hit by the economic downturn during the pandemic, which sent Nevada unemployment skyrocketing to 30% in April 2020 — the highest in the country and more than double the U.S. jobless rate at the time . State workers were then hit doubly as inflation rose and gasoline prices topped $5 a gallon in a state where many people commute long distances to work.

This created a particularly bad mood among voters as Sisolak launched his re-election campaign. Although the Democratic governor touted the recovery in the state’s job market, Lombardo argued that Sisolak paints a skewed picture of Nevadans’ economic struggles because many Nevadans are still underemployed, he said. Lombardo also accused Sisolak of battering businesses in the state with Covid-19 restrictions and onerous regulations. He said Sisolak is too slow to reopen schools and businesses, slowing the state’s recovery. But the Democratic governor pushed back, saying his primary focus is “saving lives.”

Lombardo was one of the rare GOP candidates to be endorsed by both Trump and the Republican establishment. At times during the general election, he tried to keep his distance from Trump as he tried to win over moderate and independent voters. During a debate with Sisolak, Lombardo said he would not call Trump a “great” president and said he disagreed with Trump’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.

But Sisolak suggested that Lombardo gave different answers to different audiences. He also relentlessly attacked Lombardo’s shifts to abortion, which Nevada is protected for up to 24 weeks by a 1990 voter referendum. Lombardo argued that Nevada’s current law should remain in effect, but Sisolak noted that he changed his position several times during the campaign. In May, for example, Lombardo told a columnist he would support sending voters a referendum to move the 24-week limit to 13 weeks. However, he later said he had thought more about this possible change and no longer supported it. Nonetheless, Sisolak portrayed his Republican opponent as a threat to women’s reproductive rights.

Sisolak did not invite Biden to fight with him in the final stages, but also argued that the president is being unfairly blamed for inflation as well as problems he inherited from Trump.

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