Laxalt, Sisolak To Face Off For Governor | KUNR

Laxalt, Sisolak To Face Off For Governor

Jun 13, 2018

The results are in and Republicans and Democrats have selected their nominees in the race to be Nevada’s next governor. Reno Public Radio's Paul Boger reports.

It was all smiles at Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s watch party in South Reno last night.

Facing relatively weak opponents, with limited funding and poor name recognition, Laxalt cruised to victory, with the Associated Press calling the race mere moments after results began pouring in. Laxalt ultimately gained the nomination by garnering more than 71 percent of the vote.

"Today, I want to fight to keep our state going in that positive direction," said Laxalt, speaking to supporters after the AP’s announcement.

He went on to say that he believes his victory signals a return to more conservative values in Nevada. He also says the state is poised for success, thanks to the progress made in recent years.

“I want a more prosperous Nevada," said Laxalt. “We will be the most economically competitive state in the American West."

Laxalt has long been a GOP favorite to take over for term-limited Republican Governor Brian Sandoval. He even earned the endorsement of President Donald Trump via Twitter yesterday.

The AG has run on a platform calling on lowering state taxes, limiting regulations on businesses, and being tough on crime. He's also been vocal in his opposition to any law or ordinance that would prevent police from helping federal officials enforce immigration laws.

It’s that agenda that’s attracted voters like Scott Jolcover of Carson City, who chose to attend Laxalt’s watch party to help celebrate the victory.

"I like his values,” said Jolcover. “I like the fact that he's a family man. I like the fact that he's conservative, and I think he's just going to be a really good governor for the state of Nevada to step into Sandoval's shoes."

On the flipside of the political coin, the Democratic primary for governor was far tighter, and, in many respects, far more brutal. The race between Clark County Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani was characterized by personal and professional attack ads.

Ultimately, Sisolak won the day, beating Giunchigliani, otherwise known as Chris G., by about 16,000 votes statewide, but that victory came mostly from voters in Southern Nevada. Giunchigliani outperformed her opponent in Washoe, Humboldt, Elko, Eureka and White Pine Counties, as well as Carson City.

For some voters, support for Sisolak was calculated. Many, like Doug Whitener of Reno, saw him as the best chance to beat a Republican like Laxalt in the general election.

"I think Sisolak as a candidate has a better chance of beating him, basically," said Whitener. “I like Chris G., too. I mean, I like both of them. I think he has a better chance and we need to win these elections."

For others, like Ben Contine, Giunchigliani's loss was a disappointing blow.

"All the way from the highest end to the county clerk, we'll be out there fighting for people who are standing up for people who can't stand up for themselves,” Contine said. “I think the movement Chris started won't die. It'll just take a different form.”

In all, more than 320,000 Nevadans voted in the 2018 primary. That's just north of 22 percent of the state's total active registered voters. That's the highest number in nearly a decade. With so many voters participating, it's likely going to be a busy and contentious election season in Nevada.

Editor's Note: When this story originally aired it stated that Laxalt was in support of an effort to ban laws that would prevent law enforcement from working with federal immigration officials. Laxalt has not officially announced support for that ban. He has, however, been an outspoken critic of sanctuary cities.