LAS VEGAS — Nevada Gov.-elect Joe Lombardo returned Monday to the high school where he graduated in 1980 to pledge transparency and put education at the top of his Republican agenda when he replaces Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak.
But some media representatives were excluded from his victory speech.
“Although I won't be sworn in until January, our journey begins now,” the two-term Las Vegas-area sheriff said as he wrapped up about 12 minutes of comments in a Rancho High School auditorium, including a promise of “full transparency, which I intend to lead by.”
The event drew about 125 supporters, friends and Republican campaign staff members, including Lombardo's largest campaign donor, wealthy hotel businessman and Las Vegas-area aerospace company owner Robert Bigelow.
Reporters for the Las Vegas Sun newspaper, which endorsed Sisolak, and the Nevada Current news website were not allowed in. Their executives said Lombardo campaign aides told them the event reached “capacity for press.” A Sun photographer covered the event, along with multiple TV crews, other print reporters and an Associated Press writer and photographer.
“This is the second time in a week the governor-elect used the `there is no room' excuse to bar a Sun reporter from covering him,” Sun Publisher Brian Greenspun said in a statement to the AP. “There must always be room for a reporter to ask questions of government.”
Hugh Jackson, editor of the Current, noted that his staff were shut out of previous campaign events including a Republican election results gathering. Jackson said there were hundreds of open seats in the school auditorium on Monday.
“Most concerning going forward is the prospect that as governor, Lombardo, his office, and publicly financed executive branch government offices under his purview will refuse to provide the Current and other media organizations with public information,” Jackson said.
Lombardo campaign press aide Elizabeth Ray did not immediately respond to questions about the event media list.
Lombardo announced his candidacy at the same school in June 2021, was endorsed early by former President Donald Trump, and emerged last June atop a crowded GOP primary field that also included former U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, Reno attorney Joey Gilbert, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee and venture capitalist Guy Nohra.
The governor's race was close, and ballot counting in Nevada stretched through several days partly because a broad mail voting law passed by the state Legislature in 2020 requires counties to accept ballots postmarked by Election Day if they arrive up to four days later.
“Now that the election is over, we must set aside our differences and come together as Nevadans to work toward a common goal of building a stronger economy and a healthier and safer Nevada,” Lombardo said Monday. “No matter who you are, where you're from, or who you voted for, I am ready to listen to you, work for you and earn your trust.”
Lombardo promised his administration “will expand school choice and make school safety a priority, fix the broken state agencies, create safer streets by eliminating soft-on-crime laws (and) get our economy back on track so we don't have to pay the price for bad decisions coming out of Washington D.C.”
He did not offer details, and ended his speech saying he would not take questions.
“My administration will never stop listening to you,” he added.
Lombardo turned 60 on Election Day. He told his supporters Monday that Sisolak offered help to smooth his transition from elected head of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to the governor's mansion in Carson City. Sisolak's election in 2018 made him the first Democratic governor in the state in more than two decades.
In a concession statement on Friday, Sisolak acknowledged criticism he received for closing businesses, schools and casinos in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effect of “global inflation” on his administration. He said “tough decisions” with “tough political ramifications” during the pandemic “helped save Nevada lives.”
Lombardo will contend with a state Legislature that remains under Democratic control.
However, Republicans will move into two statewide posts: lieutenant governor with Stavros Anthony, and controller with Andy Matthews.
The incoming secretary of state, Francisco “Cisco” Aguilar, a Democrat, will replace Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske. State Attorney General Aaron Ford and Treasurer Zach Conine, both Democrats, won reelection.