Updated March 17, 2021 - 1:39 pm
A local attorney who has spent the last year suing the state over COVID-19 pandemic restrictions has gained support from some prominent state Republicans for her recently announced challenge to Attorney General Aaron Ford in 2022.
Sigal Chattah will hold a campaign kick-off reception next week, with a supporting guest list of dozens of Republican politicians and attorneys, including Nevada Republican Party Chair Michael McDonald, Las Vegas Councilwomen Victoria Seaman and Michele Fiore and former Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison.
In an interview with the Review-Journal on Wednesday, Chattah said she felt the pandemic restrictions and shutdowns were the unconstitutional acts of a “totalitarian regime,” which spurred her to work pro bono on these lawsuits and, eventually, run for office.
“I saw such a deviation from the Constitution and the way our civil liberties were essentially suspended, and it hurt me to the core,” she said.
Ford, formerly the state Senate’s majority leader, has been one of the state’s most prominent and recognizable elected officials in his first term as attorney general.
In a statement, he touted his record on criminal justice reform and victories over former President Donald Trump’s administration, while also responding to the pandemic overreach narrative Chattah and other state Republicans appear poised to run on.
“I fought to keep Nevada families safe and in their homes during this deadly pandemic,” Ford said, a reference to his push for Nevada’s statewide moratorium on evictions during much of the last year.
Both have begun fundraising in earnest for the race, still more than 18 months away, but Ford should hold a considerable lead given the nearly $439,000 in his campaign account as of Dec. 31.
Chattah may also have to face competition in a Republican primary, while Ford, even if challenged in a primary, is almost certain to advance.
Chattah immigrated to Nevada from Israel at 14 years old. She attended UNLV before going out of state for law school, eventually returning to Las Vegas and starting her eponymous law firm in 2002.
Although her announcement news release and campaign website make no mention of political party, Chattah confirmed she will run as a Republican. She is currently an appointed planning commissioner for the city of Las Vegas and previously served on the Southern Nevada Disciplinary Board of the State Bar of Nevada for 12 years, but this is her first bid for elected office.
She has represented clients in three recent high-profile cases against the state: A challenge to the Nevada’s vaccine distribution plan that was eventually dismissed as the plan progressed, an attempt to reverse the Legislature’s temporary suspension of in-person public appearances and lobbying during the 2021 session that remains ongoing and a successful bid to end a restriction on the size of church gatherings.
“We’ve had great support from the community. What people recognize is they have a candidate who has spent the last year protecting them and fighting for them, and it’s something that’s refreshing,” Chattah said.
Chattah accused Ford of representing state Democrats’ political interests rather than acting as “the people’s lawyer,” which she pledged to do.
Ford says he has more to do
Ford will run again in 2022 as part of a slate of Democratic state executives looking to maintain near-total political control after a major tidal change in the state during the 2018 election.
He said Wednesday he was proud of what his office has been able to accomplish despite pandemic challenges, including working with Republicans and Democrats to pass stronger laws against domestic abusers and child predators.
“I repeatedly won battles against the Trump Administration’s overreach into our state and our rights, fighting for immigrant families, LGTBQ Nevadans, our environment, our health care and more,” Ford added.
Ford said he is sponsoring new laws in the current session that protect Nevadans from price gouging during emergencies and keep health care affordable. His office is also actively suing more than 40 defendants who the state says created the opioid crisis as we know it in Nevada.
“Waking up each day to go to work for Nevada families like mine is the privilege of my lifetime, and I look forward to my next term as Nevada Attorney General,” Ford said.