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Nevada’s Dem governor hopefuls depleting campaign cash in primary quest

CARSON CITY — No matter who wins the Democratic nomination in Nevada’s governors race Tuesday, one thing is clear: they’re going to be nearly broke.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak has spent a massive amount of campaign cash in his Democratic primary battle against fellow commissioner Chris Giunchigliani.

Sisolak, who entered the start of 2018 with approximately $5.75 million cash on hand, has spent more than $6.3 million since Jan. 1, with $1.1 million of that coming from May 19 to June 8, according to campaign finance reports that were due by midnight Friday.

For comparison, Sisolak has spent $2 million than current Gov. Brian Sandoval spent in the entire 2010 election year, when he defeated incumbent Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons in the primary before beating Democrat Rory Reid in the general.

And Sisolak wasn’t quite done spending. His campaign dropped $318,000 on television ads for the final four days before election day, campaign spokeswoman Christina Amestoy confirmed.

Giunchigliani, meanwhile, has less money to work with — she raised $164,000 compared to Sisolak’s $363,000 from May 19 to June 8 — but she’s been spending her funds with similar haste.

She spent nearly $500,000 in the last three weeks, with roughly $437,000 of that on advertising.

“We feel great heading into primary day,” said Giunchigliani campaign manager Eric Hyers, citing recent favorable polling and an endorsement from former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Hyers added that the high-dollar spending shows that Sisolak ”is clearly seeing the same thing” and is trying to “buy his way out of this Democratic primary.”

For both sides, the worry becomes whether they will have weakened whichever candidate wins for the general election, both from a reputation and financial standpoint.

Amestoy said the primary fight would be “hard-fought to the very end,” adding that the campaign feels “confident we will have the resources to win in November.”

“We’re feeling really strong. Democratic enthusiasm has been really high and voters are responding to Steve’s message. We’re thankful for all the hard work put in by our volunteers and supporters and look forward to winning on Tuesday,” Amestoy said.

On the other side of the race, expected favorite to win the Republican nomination Adam Laxalt looks poised to have the cash advantage over whoever comes out ahead in the Democratic primary. He campaign reported raising nearly $400,000 and spending roughly $620,000 in that three-week reporting period.

Jared Fisher, a Las Vegas businessman and bike shop owner, reported raising nearly $120,000, most of which came from a personal loan to his campaign, while spending roughly $54,000.

Nevada Treasurer Dan Schwartz raised $75,250, all but $250 of which came from himself. Schwartz, who has run several ads attacking Laxalt, also spent about $83,000 in that three-week period.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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