Laxalt, Lombardo advance to the general election
Some of the high-profile races in Nevada’s primary elections didn’t get called until late into the night. KUNR’s Bert Johnson joined news director Michelle Billman to break it all down.
Michelle Billman: Bert, thanks for going over these election returns.
Bert Johnson: Yeah, no problem!
Billman: So let’s start at the top of the ticket. What can you tell us about the primaries for the U.S. Senate and Congress?
Johnson: Obviously, the Senate seat is always important, but this time partisan balance in the Senate really depends on Nevada. The Democrats have a very narrow margin there, and the Republicans really want to flip it.
Incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto sailed through her primary. She’ll face off with Adam Laxalt in November, and he got more than half the Republican votes cast. That’s not a surprise; he had a Trump endorsement and lots of money in his campaign. But he did face a surprisingly tough challenger: former Army Capt. Sam Brown. Brown was pretty popular with voters, but he couldn’t close that gap in the end.
Incumbent Congressman Mark Amodei won his primary, too. He’s the only GOP member of Congress from Nevada. His seat is reliably Republican. He’s strongly against some of the proposed gun safety legislation in the House that was introduced in the wake of recent high-profile mass shootings, including the one in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 21 people, including elementary school students.
Amodei wants to see schools become “hardened,” but a majority of Americans, including most gun owners, support expanded background checks and other reforms.
Billman: Let’s pivot to the governor’s race. What did we see there?
Johnson: Well, just like Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Gov. Steve Sisolak did really well with Democrat voters. On the GOP side, there was a really crowded field in this race. Eventually, the Associated Press called it for Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, though. He had more than a 10% lead over the second-place finisher, who is Reno lawyer Joey Gilbert.
I talked to voter Meredith Weston on [primary election day] while she was waiting to vote here in Reno. She was there to support Lombardo.
“I like the fact that he’s a sheriff,” Weston said. “As far as Joey Gilbert, I mean, a lawyer. I don’t know. I’m not too fond of lawyers. But a sheriff, I have a lot of respect for our law enforcement.”
Joey Gilbert started to use the “Big Lie” – which is Trump’s false allegations of voter fraud – against his fellow Republicans on election night. This was actually before the race had been called; in a Facebook post, he said, “I will concede nothing.”
Billman: Bert, what about the Secretary of State primaries? We saw Democrat Francisco Aguilar was running unopposed, but there were several Republicans in the lineup, including Jim Marchant, who’s been a big supporter of Trump’s election lies.
Johnson: Yeah, Marchant won on the Republican side. He not only supports Trump’s “Big Lie,” but he also appeared at a QAnon conference last year in Las Vegas. And, if he wins, he’ll be in charge of administering elections here.
Outgoing Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, who’s also a Republican, defended the integrity of Nevada’s election results against the Trump campaign. This is a GOP priority because they want to find people who will toe the party line, and it’s part of a national strategy, too. The GOP is hoping to put their people in positions that will oversee the 2024 presidential election.
Billman: What about the rest of the statewide races on the ballot?
Johnson: Incumbent Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Cano Burkhead won the Democrat primary with a pretty big lead. She was nominated by Gov. Sisolak for part of a term after the last lieutenant governor resigned.
The GOP primary was pretty tight, though. Incumbent Attorney General Aaron Ford secured his spot to run for reelection. His Republican rival is going to be Sigal Chatta, who won her race.
In primaries for treasurer, the Democrat incumbent Zach Conine actually ran unopposed. Gun-toting Las Vegas City Council member Michele Fiore won the GOP primary in that race.
Billman: Bert, thanks for breaking down these election results with us.
Johnson: Yeah, happy to do it!