Decision Desk has called the Nevada gubernatorial race for Republican Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who received 49.24% of the vote to Democrat incumbent Steve Sisolak’s 46.99% as of this reporting.
Although Sisolak faced headwinds — President Joe Biden’s poor approval ratings, high inflation, and a crime wave, which hurt Democrats’ polling numbers throughout the summer and fall — following Tuesday’s initial results, things looked as though they might improve for the Democrat.
After a slow ballot count, however, Sisolak was defeated by a moderate margin.
Additionally, 68-year-old Sisolak faced numerous charges of corruption from Republicans after a ProPublica investigation revealed in May that Sisolak’s administration had fast-tracked a lab license and awarded several COVID testing contracts to Northshore Clinical Labs. Northshore is closely linked with the family of Peter Palivos, a well-known Nevada political contributor who has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Sisolak’s campaigns over more than a decade.
After Northshore was awarded five testing agreements with government entities, their testing kits were found to miss 96% of COVID cases. The revelation set off a series of circular finger-pointing among Sisolak and others involved in the scandal.
“The day the state was made aware of Northshore’s deficiencies in January we ordered them to stop their PCR testing operation, opened an investigation, and worked to correct the testing issues,” Sisolak said in May. “We believe Nevada was the first state where Northshore operations were suspended due to the state’s inquiries into the reported deficiencies.”
Sisolak seized on abortion access after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this summer. In June, he signed an executive order barring state employees from assisting any other state seeking to prosecute someone for receiving an abortion. He also attempted to paint Lombardo as an extremist on the issue, claiming that the sheriff would try to ban contraceptives, an allegation that Lombardo has denied.
Lombardo, 60, ran a campaign focused largely on economic issues, education, and crime, especially the prevalence of black market fentanyl in the state. The longtime law enforcement officer has portrayed himself as a moderate on other issues, such as abortion, consistently downplaying what he could do to limit abortion as governor.
The Clark County sheriff also shifted on his support for former President Donald Trump during the campaign. During a debate with Sisolak in early October, Lombardo backed off when asked if he considered Trump, who endorsed Lombardo, to have been a “great president.”
“I wouldn’t say great,” Lombardo said. “I think he was a sound president.”
After the debate, Lombardo’s campaign sent out a statement calling the former president “a great president” and claiming that “his accomplishments are some of the most impactful in American history.” The statement went on to tie Sisolak to Biden and accuse the Nevada governor of weakening the state’s elections through mail ballots, “ballot harvesting,” and opposition to voter ID.