Republican governor candidate Joey Gilbert is refusing to concede the primary election after vote counts show he lost the race, alleging widespread fraud.
A statement published by the Gilbert campaign Thursday doubles down on claims the candidate made on election night, when Gilbert said in a post on Facebook that “I smell a lawsuit,” and that he “will concede nothing.”
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo won the Republican governor primary with just over 38 percent of the vote. Gilbert received about 27 percent, according to state results: 25,932 more Nevadans voted for Lombardo than Gilbert.
While Gilbert carried a majority of the state’s counties, something which his campaign falsely claims adds to his fraud allegations’ legitimacy, Lombardo defeated Gilbert both in Clark County and in Gilbert’s home Washoe County. Those two counties comprise more than 87 percent of the state’s active registered voters.
Gilbert, a Reno lawyer who won the endorsement of the Nevada Republican Party, aligned himself with Donald Trump in his governor campaign, boasting he was the only candidate who was “Trump from the jump.” He’s repeatedly echoed conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the Oct. 1, 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas.
“You can’t run on a platform of integrity and fighting against corruption, and turn your back on this election and pretend no disingenuous activity occurred that absolutely affected this election,” Gilbert said in the statement.
State GOP Chairman Michael McDonald, who was subpoenaed by the congressional Jan. 6 commission and had his cell phone seized by the FBI over his attempt to send fake Electoral College certificates to Washington, D.C., said on election night that “there’s no indication” of fraud in the race and that “it’s disappointing that those comments come out of the Republican Party.”
The Gilbert campaign statement cites “numerous election violations” but focuses on nine key points alleging fraud and other malpractice in the primary. The campaign did not provide evidence to back up these claims, but hinted at legal action against the state.
The campaign has a “legal team ready to take action,” spokesman Paul White said. The campaign hopes to avoid lawsuits through intervention of the current Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, White said. The campaign wants Cegavske not to certify the election.
Cegavske, a Republican, is not running for re-election. The Republican nominee to replace her, former assemblyman Jim Marchant, has also alleged fraud in the 2022 primary despite winning his race. Marchant has similarly spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and has proposed sweeping changes to Nevada’s elections if he is elected in November.
The Lombardo campaign derided Gilbert’s claims of fraud.
“Every legitimate news outlet has called this race for Sheriff Joe Lombardo, and it’s clear that the people of Nevada have spoken,” campaign spokesperson Elizabeth Ray said. “Like Sheriff Lombardo said, no matter who you voted for last week, he’s ready to listen to you, work for you, and fight for you as your Republican nominee.”
One part of Gilbert’s fraud allegations focuses on the approximately 44,000 non-partisan voters who participated in the election. Nevada has a closed primary system, meaning only voters registered with parties can vote in that parties’ primary. Voters who were registered as non-partisan could only vote in non-partisan primaries, which mostly consisted of school board, university regents and sheriff contests.
The Gilbert campaign says these voters were “disenfranchised” by the closed primary system, even though the system was working as intended. Only registered Republicans could vote in the Republican primary for governor.
No timeline was provided for potential legal action contesting the election.
“We’re looking forward to getting the facts out and ensuring that the legal process was fair,” White said.