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Rural Democratic caucus chair Cole announces bid for lieutenant governor

CARSON CITY — Northern Nevada Democrat Kimi Cole announced her candidacy for lieutenant governor Wednesday, framing her run as a bid to become the the first openly transgender person elected to statewide office in the U.S.

“I believe Nevadans of all walks of life want and deserve authentic leadership, and that’s exactly what this campaign is about,” she said in a statement issued ahead of a planned midday announcement in the state capital. “Our economy, climate, and everyday life is rapidly changing, and we need someone who can help lead our transition into the new era.”

The current Carson City resident chairs the Nevada Democratic Rural Caucus and is former chair of the Douglas County Democrats. The post of lieutenant governor is currently vacant following Democrat Kate Marshall’s departure in September to join President Joe Biden’s administration as a senior adviser to governors in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Gov. Steve Sisolak has the authority to fill the vacancy and has said he is weighing candidates for appointment but has not committed to naming a replacement. The lieutenant governor is presiding officer of the state Senate, and an appointee would step in cold to the role when the Legislature, as expected, is called into special session this month to approve new state election districts based on the decennial census. Otherwise, the Senate’s president pro tem, currently state Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, would preside.

State Democrats have put forward term-limited Henderson Mayor Debra March for the position.

Cole, a retired construction project manager, publicly transitioned a decade ago and describes herself as as “a champion for LGBTQ+ rights” and “fixture in Nevada Democratic politics since 2012” who has advocated for more investment in rural parts of the state.

She said Nevadans have “proven our resilience” with navigating the COVID pandemic and its economic fallout, and impacts from climate change, “but far too many of our political leaders remain intent upon dividing us up and even threatening the very essence of our democracy.”

Announced Republican candidates include former state treasurer Dan Schwartz, Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony and business consultant Mack Miller.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

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