Republican Joe Lombardo, the popular Clark County sheriff, will beat Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak after arguing he hadn’t done enough to shake up the economy after the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nevada has been a battleground state since the early 1990s, but Joe Biden narrowly won the Silver State in 2020 despite strong efforts from Donald Trump, especially in rural Nevada. Democrats have made gains in competitive races in recent years based, in part, on the turnout of working-class and Latino voters, two key constituencies in a state that relies heavily on tourism as well as construction industries. hotels and services.
But these two blocks of voters have been among the hardest hit by the economic downturn during the pandemic, which pushed unemployment in Nevada to 30% in April 2020 – the highest in the country and more than double the unemployment rate. American at that time. Workers in the state then suffered a double blow as inflation rose and gas prices topped $5 a gallon in a state where many people must travel long distances to get to work.
It created a particularly sour mood among voters as Sisolak began his re-election campaign. Although the Democratic governor touted the state’s job market recovery, Lombardo argued that Sisolak paints a distorted picture of Nevadans’ economic struggles because many Nevadans are still underemployed, he said. . Lombardo also accused Sisolak of crushing state businesses with Covid-19 restrictions and onerous regulations. He said Sisolak was too slow to reopen schools and businesses, slowing the state’s recovery. But the Democratic governor pushed back, saying his main goal was to “save lives”.
Sisolak conceded Thursday night before the race was called, noting it looked like he would fall “about a percentage point from winning.”
“Obviously, this is not the outcome I want, but I believe in our electoral system, in democracy and in respecting the will of the voters of Nevada. So whether you voted for me or for the Sheriff Lombardo, it is important that we come together now to continue moving the state forward, which is why I have reached out to the sheriff to wish him well,” Sisolak said in a statement. He also noted that he had presided over some difficult years, including a “once-in-a-century pandemic” and “the strains and strains of global inflation”.
“I know this has been a challenge for many of you and I couldn’t be more proud of how this state has worked to bring us to a better day,” Sisolak said. “I’m also proud that we made the tough decisions during COVID that helped save approximately 30,000 lives in Nevada, even though those decisions sometimes had tough political ramifications.”
Lombardo called his victory “a victory for all Nevadans who want our state back on track.”
“This is a victory for small business owners, for parents, for students and for law enforcement. This is a victory for all Nevadans who believe our best and brightest days are ahead of us,” Lombardo said in a statement.
Lombardo was one of the few GOP candidates backed by both Trump and the Republican establishment. During the general election, he has sometimes sought to keep his distance from Trump as he tries to win over moderate and independent voters. During a debate with Sisolak, Lombardo said he would not describe Trump as a “great” president and said he disagreed with Trump’s false claims that the presidential election of 2020 was rigged.
But Sisolak suggested that Lombardo gave different responses to different audiences. He also relentlessly attacked Lombardo’s changes to abortion, which is protected in Nevada for up to 24 weeks by a 1990 election referendum. Lombardo argued that current Nevada law should remain in place, but Sisolak argued. noted that he changed his position several times during the campaign. In May, for example, Lombardo told a columnist that he would support sending voters a referendum moving the limit from 24 weeks to 13 weeks. But he later said he had given more thought to this potential change and was no longer supportive of it. Yet Sisolak portrayed his Republican opponent as a threat to women’s reproductive rights.
Sisolak did not invite Biden to campaign with him down the stretch, but he also argued that the president was being unfairly blamed for inflation, as well as the problems he inherited from Trump.
This story has been updated with additional details.
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