Former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of Joe Lombardo for governor on April 27 gave the Clark County sheriff a major boost in the race where Lombardo was already the acknowledged frontrunner among the GOP’s 15-candidate field.
In his endorsement message, Trump wrote “As governor, Joe will fiercely protect our under-siege Second Amendment, oppose sanctuary cities, support our law enforcement, veto any liberal tax increase, protect life, and secure our elections.”
Trump concluded, “Joe Lombardo is the leader Nevada needs, and he has my complete and total endorsement for governor!”
The endorsement came as a blow for other GOP gubernatorial candidates who have attempted to ingratiate themselves to Trump.
Former Sen. Dean Heller repeatedly said he would love to have the former president’s endorsement and went so far as calling Joe Biden an illegitimate president. Heller’s political comeback campaign has been hobbled as a result of his failure to support Trump in 2016, an act not forgotten or forgiven by Nevada Republicans.
Ex-professional boxer Joey Gilbert was an early “Trump from the Jump” supporter. Without proof, Gilbert claims Trump won Nevada by 44,000 votes in 2020 despite certified election results showing Biden winning by 33,596.
Gilbert, a personal injury and criminal defense attorney, was on the Capitol steps during the Jan. 6, 2021 riot.
While the ardent wooing of Trump by Heller and Gilbert failed, Lombardo took a more restrained approach saying he would “accept” the former president’s endorsement if Trump agreed with his agenda and policies.
Lombardo told the Nevada Independent that he recognizes Biden as the legitimate president and “the evidence was not brought forward that we could prosecute on (election fraud).”
Lombardo said he was “humbled” to accept Trump’s endorsement.
“From his tough on crime policies to his unwavering support for law enforcement, I know that there has been no greater friend to veterans and law enforcement than President Trump,” Lombardo said.
In addition to the Trump endorsement, Lombardo has dominated campaign fundraising among GOP candidates.
On April 15, he reported raising an additional $824,000 in campaign contributions through the first three months of 2022. Lombardo has $2.95 million in cash on hand.
By contrast, Heller, fading in polls, raised $155,000 during the first quarter and ended the period with $241,000 in available cash. Lombardo has a 12-1 cash advantage over Heller approaching the June 14 primary.
North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, a recent GOP convert, reported raising $652,000 with $500,000 coming as his personal campaign loan. Lee, rising in polls, has $169,000 left in cash.
Far-right firebrand Gilbert has only $41,000 cash remaining.
Venture capitalist Guy Nohra and surgeon Dr. Fred Simon, running largely as self-funded political newcomers, have negligible statewide support, polls show.
Lombardo, 58, is a U.S. Army veteran who joined Las Vegas Metro in 1988.
A lifelong Republican, Lombardo now leads Metro overseeing 5,700 police officers. Narrowly elected sheriff in November 2014 (51%-49%), he was re-elected in June 2018 with an impressive 73% of the vote, defeating four challengers.
Lombardo has positioned himself as a law and order candidate critical of Democrats “focusing on felons’ rights, weakening penalties for crimes and handcuffing the police.”
Lombardo says he would block teaching critical race theory in schools, establish an “election integrity commission” and defend the Second Amendment.
He promises to veto any proposed tax increase and supports “school choice” alternatives to traditional public schools.
Polls show Gov. Steve Sisolak vulnerable in November and Lombardo his strongest GOP opponent. Two most recent polls have Lombardo solidly leading the Republican field.
A respected Suffolk University/Reno Gazette Journal poll taken in early April showed Sisolak with a net unfavorable rating (42% approve vs. 45% disapprove).
In that poll, Lombardo topped Sisolak by a 2% margin (39-37) , an ominous political sign for an incumbent six months before election day.
Email Jim Hartman at firstname.lastname@example.org.