Indy Elections is The Nevada Independent’s newsletter devoted to comprehensive and accessible coverage of the 2024 elections, from the race for the White House to the bid to take control of the Legislature.

Editor’s note: This newsletter was originally published on Sept. 26, 2023.

In today’s edition: It would seem Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo had a very busy week of Q&A’s, including spending an hour with Nevada Independent CEO Jon Ralston during a swing through Texas. Today, we bring you the highlights, plus a look at fresh ads for the TV grinder, and a packed Lightning Round. 

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We want to hear from you! Send us your questions, comments, observations, jokes, or what you think we should be covering or paying attention to. Email Jacob Solis, your humble newsletter editor, at [email protected].

Days until: 

  • Presidential candidate filing opens: 8
  • Nevada presidential primary: 133
  • GOP presidential caucus: 135
  • Election Day: 408

Breaking down an hour of Jon Ralston grilling Gov. Joe Lombardo at the Texas Tribune’s TribFest.

Nearly 1,300 miles from a balmy Las Vegas, Gov. Joe Lombardo sat down with Indy CEO Jon Ralston at the Texas Tribune’s annual festival in Austin, Texas, on Saturday. The conversation was in front of a Texas audience, technically speaking — Lombardo was one of four(!) sitting governors to sit down for TribFest interviews over the three-day event. But that didn’t stop the governor from dropping a few Nevada-worthy news nuggets. 

We broke down the whole talk over on the website. But for your newsletter consumption, a few highlights: 

On Trump 

Lombardo said he was “not getting engaged” in the Republican presidential primary, and that includes staying out of the Trump endorsement question. Still, the former sheriff lamented the former president’s many indictments. 

“I can’t turn a blind eye to it,” Lombardo said. “You see the polls out there, ‘if he was indicted for a felony, would you still vote for him,’ and everything that goes along with that — that hurts my core, and what I believe in.” 

On the Senate race 

Lombardo says he supports Sam Brown in the increasingly crowded Republican race to oust Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) next year — just don’t call it an endorsement (yet). 

“The reason why I haven’t done it yet [is] because I don’t want to get too early in the process,” Lombardo said. “I just want a little more stability in the candidates before I make that decision.”

On the Legislature

As Lombardo’s political machine positions itself to ward off a Democratic supermajority in the Legislature, the governor broke with some messaging from a supportive PAC.

Better Nevada PAC has been hammering legislative Democrats over financial ties to certain legislation, and has roped Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro into the fray in the process. But asked if he agreed with the characterization Cannizzaro was corrupt, Lombardo said no. 

“I don’t believe she’s corrupt,” he said. “I think she’s passionate about what she stands for, and I think it’s important for people to look through that, and understand that.”

On the A’s

The governor also touted the bill financing a new stadium for the Oakland A’s on the Las Vegas Strip, adding there was a potential for  a “return on investment that’s exponential” in the long term. 

“And here’s the coup de grâce: in 30 years at the end of that contract with Clark County and the state, the county owns that stadium,” Lombardo said.

Jacob Solis

But wait, there’s more! Another Lombardo Q&A

Before heading south to Texas and then way north (more on that below), Lombardo spent last Thursday morning at the Orleans in Las Vegas, speaking to a room of about 300 people in the commercial real estate industry at a breakfast hosted by the Southern Nevada chapter of NAIOP, or the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

Lombardo — who said he learned more about real estate and housing from his wife who works in the industry — dished on industry issues, land use, state regulations, the Oakland A’s, education, water and combatting Democratic control of the Legislature. Here are a few nuggets from his conversation with DJT Real Estate’s Dan Tuntland:

On cutting regulations

Lombardo spoke about his executive order directing state agencies to roll back unnecessary state regulations, saying that some could not be removed through the regulatory process because they were mandated by state law. He added, “In the next legislative session, we will attempt to repeal all of them.”

On supermajorities in the Legislature

Lombardo panned the idea of supermajority control in both chambers of the Legislature — which Democrats could attain in 2025 if they flip one Senate seat and maintain all of their seats in the Assembly — saying it leads to extreme ideas and that he would not even want to see Republican supermajorities because “that’s just not good government.”

“My team is working hard to identify viable candidates,” he said. “Our intent is to get out of the [superminority] and ideally we’d get out of the [minority] process, but in this case, our concern is the supermajority, which would void my ability to veto bills.”

On water shortage

With Southwestern states facing a need to cut back on water use from the Colorado River, Lombardo said the key issue “is the agricultural environment in Southern California.”

He added that he believes a lack of water would not limit growth and development in Southern Nevada.

“I feel comfortable saying, ‘Come one, come all. Water is not going to be a limiter,’” he said.

— Sean Golonka

Nevada GOP approves party-run caucus that will exclude candidates who run in primary by Tabitha Mueller and Jacob Solis

Surely THIS will clear up the caucus-primary confusion. 

Election 2024: Tracking Nevada legislative candidate announcements by Tabitha Mueller, Sean Golonka and Jacob Solis

Who’s in? Who’s out? Well, do we have a spreadsheet for you.

Lombardo: ‘Not getting engaged’ on presidential primary, Trump re-election bid by Jacob Solis, Tabitha Mueller and Sean Golonka

In case you scrolled past the entire top of this newsletter (Editor’s note: how dare you), we recap Lombardo’s visit to Texas. 

What does the looming government shutdown mean for Nevada? by Gabby Birenbaum

The last shutdown broke a record at 35 days. Who wants to set the over/under for this one? 

Nye County GOP votes to have executive members sign NDAs by Jessica Hill, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Nye joins Washoe in adopting nondisclosure agreements for its Republican Central Committee.

League of Conservation Voters/House Majority Forward — Mark Amodei: Side with Us

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) is among just eight Republicans being targeted by a trio of Democrat-linked PACs with a new $500,000 ad buy aiming to pressure GOP lawmakers over the looming government shutdown. 

Funded by the League of Conservation Voters and House Majority Forward, the ad looks to tie Amodei to the “MAGA Republican government shutdown,” putting his face alongside House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), as well as hard-right Republicans Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). 

Amodei is the only one of the eight not running in a competitive district, however. NBC News reported last week that the buy will run in the districts of five House Republicans whose districts also broke for President Joe Biden, as well as another two swing districts. Amodei won his 2022 re-election bid by nearly 22 percentage points. 

Larry Elder — Let Larry Debate

Conservative talk radio host and longshot Republican presidential hopeful Larry Elder intensified his final push to make the debate stage ahead of the second Republican primary debate on Wednesday, in part by spending $400,000 on ads in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. 

Elder’s ad casts his campaign as one against the establishment, saying the Republican National Committee “banned me from the debate stage last month even though I exceeded their qualifications.” He added the RNC was “scared” he would discuss difficult issues, including “the epidemic of fatherlessness” and “the lie that America is systemically racist.” 

Elder threatened to sue the RNC over his debate exclusion in late August, after a poll from pollster Rasmussen was excluded at the last minute (and as he came 2,000 donors short of the RNC’s debate threshold). 

Joe Biden — La Diferencia

The $25 million Biden campaign ad buy in top swing states (including Nevada) strikes again, this time with another Spanish ad: La Diferencia. The 30-second spot — set to run in English, too, as well as on a Univision broadcast of the second GOP primary debate — casts Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as “the difference,” while Republicans are “working for the rich and powerful.”   

These Spanish-language ads come as Biden and Democrats nationwide look to protect margins with Latino voters, who remain a key bloc in Southwestern swing states such as Nevada and Arizona. Latino support for Democrats remained steady from 2020 to 2022, even after a concerted GOP push to court those voters. More recently, a national Univision poll released Monday still found Biden leading Trump 58 percent to 31 percent. 

Jacob Solis

👍Kasama nabs the McCarthy seal of approval — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (as of the time of writing this) announced Tuesday he was endorsing Assemblywoman Heidi Kasama in the GOP primary for Congressional District 3, held currently by Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV). That comes as a potential blow to Kasama challengers Drew Johnson and former state Sen. Elizabeth Helgelien.    

🗺️GOP governors: We’re all border states now — That’s according to a letter sent last week from 25 Republican governors to President Joe Biden that criticizes “your policies which incentivize illegal immigration.” Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo was among the signatories of that letter, headed by Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, which also calls on the Biden administration to release “accurate, detailed, thorough data and information” to states about migrant crossings, asylum applications and deportation proceedings. 

🍁A diplomatic mission to … Canada — Well, technically a trade mission to Canada. Lombardo is out of Nevada this week as he heads to the great white north in search of economic prosperity (and joined, not surprisingly, by a host of the state’s largest mining companies). Semi-related, it also means Lt. Gov. Stavros Anthony is technically the governor until he gets back. 

⚜️I, for one, welcome our Québecois overlords — As part of the trade mission, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) announced an electric vehicle battery “alliance” with the government of Québec.

🚗Cortez Masto joins the UAW picket lines — With the United Auto Workers’ strike expanding Friday to include a plant in Reno, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto joined the lines and donned a “COLA and fair pay now” shirt. The move comes as little surprise for Cortez Masto — who gave her 2022 victory speech flanked by a half-dozen different unions. But it also comes as the UAW strike has jumbled the usual political battle lines. The union extended an invitation to President Joe Biden to join the picket lines — a historic move that Biden says he’ll make good on later today (and just a day before Trump is scheduled to visit Detroit). 

— Jacob Solis

And to ease you into the week, a few “posts” to “X” (so-called) that caught our eye (regular tweets replaced this week solely by tweets about Taylor Swift and Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce): 

We’ll see you next week.

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