LAS VEGAS (TBEN) — Republican Joe Lombardo, a career police officer who was elected sheriff in Las Vegas and backed by former President Donald Trump, has been elected governor of Nevada.
“I’ve dedicated my life to protecting and serving our community, and now I’m honored to have the opportunity to protect our entire state and serve as your next governor,” Lombardo said in a statement shortly after the Democratic incumbent Steve Sisolak conceded the race.
“Looks like we’re going to be a percentage point or so short of winning,” Sisolak said in comments following a series of voting results reported in Clark County. “That’s why I contacted the sheriff to wish him luck.”
Both Sisolak and Lombardo were in the national spotlight five years ago, following the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. At least 58 people died and hundreds were injured by a gunman who shot assault-style rifles from the windows of a high-rise hotel at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas.
At the time, Sisolak was chairman of the powerful Clark County Commission, the elected body with jurisdiction over the Las Vegas Strip. Lombardo was the impartial elected sheriff of Clark County and head of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the largest law enforcement agency in Nevada.
Sisolak became the 30th governor of Nevada. Lombardo turns 31, making Sisolak a one-term Democrat amid two decades of Republicans. But Lombardo will face a democratically controlled legislature.
The governor’s race was close, and Nevada’s vote counting took several days, in part because a broad-based postal voting bill passed by state legislatures in 2020 will require counties to accept ballots stamped on Election Day if they are up to date. arrive four days later.
Lombardo, 60, started out as a Las Vegas police officer in 1988 and served two terms as Clark County Sheriff.
Trump’s endorsement helped him get out of a crowded GOP field to win the June primaries. He endured campaign attacks over his tenure as sheriff by acknowledging an increase in crime over the past two years but blaming the funding limits and mandates of the Democrat-controlled legislature.
“Our victory is a victory for all Nevada residents who want to get our state back on track,” Lombardo said Friday, echoing campaign ads. He called his win a victory for small business owners, parents, students and law enforcement.
In his statement, Sisolak acknowledged the criticism he received for closing businesses, schools and casinos in March 2020 during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, also pointing to “the strains and strains of global inflation”.
“During COVID, we made the tough decisions that helped save an estimated 30,000 lives in Nevada,” the statement said, “even if those decisions sometimes had dire political consequences.”
Lombardo, whose campaign photos occasionally showed him in police uniform, sometimes distanced himself from Trump during the campaign. He has never endorsed baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was marred by fraud.
Lombardo said during his lone campaign debate with Sisolak that any voting irregularities two years ago were not enough to change the outcome of the election.
Lombardo’s campaign and political committees backing him received millions of dollars in support of wealthy Las Vegas hotel magnate and Las Vegas aerospace company owner Robert Bigelow.
At a campaign forum, Lombardo mocked a public health insurance option passed by the legislature and signed by Sisolak.
Lombardo said he looks at abortion through a “pro-life lens.” But he also said he would fight a national abortion ban if Congress passed one and recognize that the state law passed by Nevada voters in 1990 allows abortions up to 24 weeks gestation.
Lombardo promised a victory speech on Friday at the Las Vegas high school he attended, saying he and his wife, Donna, “can’t wait to get to work for our state in Carson City.”
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