weather icon Clear

Top Democratic candidates for Nevada governor debate in Las Vegas

Updated May 22, 2018 - 10:19 am

Nevada’s two leading Democratic governor candidates turned up the heat during a debate Monday, jabbing each other on campaign finance, gun control and the minimum wage.

The hot topics drove a wedge between the two hopefuls, further aligning the candidates with the moderate and liberal wings of the Democratic Party just three weeks before the primary election.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak supports raising the pay floor from the current $8.25 an hour but doesn’t want a large increase right away. Raising the minimum wage to $15 too quickly “will put small businesses out of business,” he said.

“Minimum-wage jobs were never meant to support a family or provide for a person’s well-being,” Sisolak said during an hourlong televised debate hosted by KLAS-TV, Channel 8, in Las Vegas. “If you raise everyone to $15, then people making $15 have to go to $20, and $20 to $25 … It would cripple our economy.”

Sisolak also supports a “carve-out,” a system in which employers can pay less than minimum wage to workers who get tips.

Sisolak’s more liberal opponent and colleague on the commission, Chris Giunchigliani, said she would never support that.

Giunchigliani said she and her mother worked as waitresses for decades, and she wants to see wages raised to $15 soon.

“I do support a $15 wage, and that’s not enough for families,” Giunchigliani said. “They reinvest those dollars back into the system and generate more than what we’re paying them.”

Sisolak and Giunchigliani both said they support measures to ban assault rifles and bump stocks and enforce background checks. Giunchigliani blasted Sisolak for accepting money from a gun company and receiving an “A-minus” grade from the National Rifle Association.

Sisolak said his positions on gun control have evolved over the past 20 years, and he criticized Giunchigliani for taking money from strip clubs and brothels.

When asked to raise their hands if they promised to not raise taxes as governor, neither candidate moved. Giunchigliani said she’s a “budget hawk” and would find ways to prioritize funding for education, mental health and cultural programs. Sisolak said “everything is on the table” and that the state has to increase revenue.

Both candidates fielded uncomfortable, personal questions that made them wince. Sisolak, who voted as a county commissioner to award grants to the nonprofit Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, was asked whether he should have disclosed that he was dating a woman who worked there before voting.

Sisolak said he’s “proud” to support the organization, both personally and through his role as a county commissioner. Disclosure of the personal relationship was not required, he said.

“I was not married to the individual. We were not engaged. There was nothing like that,” he said. “I didn’t think it was significant, it was material.”

Giunchigliani was asked whether she regrets hiring her late husband as a consultant and paying him through her campaign.

“My husband was the best political mind in the state of Nevada,” she said, adding that he used the money to pay other contractors and that the couple did not share a checking account. “I was a client, just like Steve Sisloak was a client.”

Both candidates said they’d beef up the state’s sexual harassment policies in the aftermath of accusations involving powerful Nevada figures such as casino mogul Steve Wynn and U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen. Both also said they support raises for educators and smaller class sizes.

Contact Ramona Giwargis at rgiwargis@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4538. Follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
House committee OKs bill by Titus for airport signs

The House Homeland Security Committee approved a bill by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., Wednesday to translate airport signs into multiple languages to assist tourists and others who don’t speak English.