By Mimi Nguyen Ly
Nevada Republican gubernatorial candidate, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, has won the midterm elections, ousting incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat.
The projection of Lombardo’s victory comes after several counties experienced vote counting delays, in part because the state Legislature passed a vote-by-mail law in 2020 that required counties to accept ballots postmarked by the day of the election if the ballots arrive up to four days later.
With the newly counted votes coming in from Nevada’s biggest counties—Las Vegas’ Clark County and Reno’s Washoe County—The Associated Press called the race on Friday after it determined that Lombardo’s lead could not be overcome by Sisolak by large enough margins with the remaining ballots.
Sisolak, who was the first Democrat to win Nevada’s gubernatorial post since 1994, conceded the race.
“It appears we will fall a percentage point or so short of winning,” Sisolak said after a batch of vote results was reported in Clark County. “That is why I reached out to the sheriff to wish him success.”
Lombardo, who had the endorsement of former President Donald Trump in the race, issued a statement shortly after Sisolak’s concession: “I’ve dedicated my life to protecting and serving our community, and now, I’m honored to have the opportunity to protect and serve our entire state as your next governor.”
“Our victory is a victory for all Nevadans who want our state to get back on track,” Lombardo said on Nov. 11.
While the Nevada governor’s office will now be under Republican control, the state’s Legislature is under Democrat control.
Lombardo, 60, served as a police officer in Las Vegas in 1988 and was later elected for two terms as Clark County sheriff.
Trump’s endorsement helped Lombardo win the primary in June. Lombardo weathered campaign attacks about his tenure as sheriff by acknowledging an increase in crime during the last two years but blamed it on funding limits and mandates from the Democratic-controlled Legislature.
In a statement, Sisolak acknowledged and defended himself against the criticism he faced for his policies, which closed businesses, schools, and casinos amid the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also pointed to “the stresses and strains of global inflation.”
“We made the tough decisions during COVID that helped save an estimated 30,000 Nevada lives,” he said in a statement, “even if those decisions sometimes had tough political ramifications.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.