Former President Donald Trump is endorsing Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo for governor, giving the candidate a significant leg up over Nevada’s crowded pool of Republican gubernatorial candidates with less than two months to go until the June 14 primary election.

In his endorsement message late Wednesday, Trump wrote that Lombardo, who was already considered the frontrunner in the 15-person Republican primary, has “fought some of the worst criminals and defended neighborhoods and communities from the horrific violence enabled by the Radical Left across our great country.” 

“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 wrote.

The development is a blow for other gubernatorial candidates who have tried to ingratiate themselves to Trump, including former Sen. Dean Heller, who said he would love to have the former president’s endorsement in the race, has called Joe Biden an illegitimate president and mentioned several times at a debate that he had spoken with Trump on the phone earlier that day.

Candidate Joey Gilbert, meanwhile, has described himself as “Trump from the jump.” Several of Lombardo’s opponents have sought to cast the sheriff as opposed to Trump — North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee’s campaign launched a new television ad on Wednesday claiming Lombardo “defied” Trump in “letting Vegas become a sanctuary city,” although no city in Nevada has described itself as such and Lombardo has described collaborating with federal immigration officials even after withdrawing from a formal 287(g) partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

Lombardo, meanwhile, had taken a more measured approach — saying he would “accept” the former president’s endorsement if Trump agreed with his agenda and policies but quibbling with whether he was actively seeking it. On Wednesday, he said he was “humbled” to accept the endorsement.

“I’m grateful to receive President Donald Trump’s endorsement today. From his tough on crime policies to his unwavering support of law enforcement, I know that there has been no greater friend to veterans and police officers than President Trump,” Lombardo said in a statement. 

Recent polling from OH Predictive Insights/The Nevada Independent indicates significant leads for Gov. Steve Sisolak in the gubernatorial race, with Lombardo ahead of the other Republican hopefuls. As of the poll, Sisolak maintains a 9-point lead over Lombardo and a 13-point lead over Heller.

In Nevada’s other marquee race, the Senate contest, former attorney general Adam Laxalt has been quick to tout the much earlier Trump endorsement he received. A full-screen graphic announcing the endorsement is the first thing visitors see when they visit Laxalt’s campaign website.

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