LAS VEGAS — Nevada Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt on Tuesday conceded the high-stakes race to Steve Sisolak, who will become the state’s first Democratic governor in two decades.
The Associated has not called the race that had the candidates spending more than $22 million combined in 2018 alone. The race featured President Donald Trump as friend and foe.
“I am honored to be elected as Nevada’s next governor,” Sisolak told The Associated Press. “Today, Nevadans stood up and declared that it is time to bring people together, to prioritize our schools, our health care, and our jobs, and to get things done. As governor, that is exactly what I will do. I look forward to getting to work fighting for all of Nevada’s families.”
Sisolak, 64, repeatedly campaigned on a pledge to stand up to Trump, who backed Laxalt, the state’s attorney general since 2015.
Sisolak chairs the Clark County Commission, which oversees the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding areas. In that role, he rose to prominence following the 2017 mass shooting on the Strip, starting an online fundraiser that amassed millions for victims.
Nevada’s gubernatorial race was a top priority for Democrats looking to flip control of governors’ mansions across the country Tuesday.
Popular and moderate Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval is term-limited.
Nevada is a swing state that’s trending blue. Its governor’s office is one of 26 held by Republicans that was up for grabs Tuesday and one of eight where Hillary Clinton won the presidential vote over President Donald Trump in 2016.
Sisolak will now oversee the redrawing of congressional and state legislative districts after the next U.S. Census.
Laxalt, a former U.S. Navy lieutenant, is popular on the right and proved his ability to win statewide when he emerged victorious in the 2014 attorney general race with a difference of fewer than 5,000 votes over his opponent. Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity backed his campaign.
Laxalt during the campaign cited sanctuary cities and burdensome regulations as ill-considered California policies that Nevada should avoid.
“Unfortunately we came up short tonight. ... I don’t have to tell you how difficult this is,” Laxalt told about 200 backers at a Reno hotel-casino ballroom. “This was our campaign, not just my campaign. ... People can take heart we left it all on the field.”
Sisolak is a businessman who spent a decade on the Nevada Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s public higher education system, before becoming a county commissioner in 2009. He received the endorsements of former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Last month, Obama and Biden separately campaigned for Nevada’s Democratic ticket, while Trump and Vice President Mike Pence stumped for Laxalt.
The ballot also included three other gubernatorial hopefuls: Russell Best with the Independent American Party, Libertarian Jared Lord and independent Ryan Bundy, who led armed standoffs against federal land management agents in Nevada and Oregon.