Updated April 27, 2022 - 8:05 pm
Former President Donald Trump is throwing his support behind Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo in Nevada’s crowded Republican gubernatorial primary race.
Trump announced his endorsement of Lombardo Wednesday evening through his Save America political action committee. Lombardo, a two-term sheriff of the state’s most populous county, is vying for the party’s nomination in a primary field of 15 candidates that includes former U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee. Lombardo is running to unseat first-term Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak.
“As the elected Sheriff of Clark County, Joe has fought some of the worst criminals and defended neighborhoods and communities from the horrific violence enabled by the Radical Left across our great Country,” Trump said in the statement announcing the endorsement.
“As Governor, Joe will fiercely Protect our under-siege Second Amendment, Oppose Sanctuary Cities, Support our Law Enforcement, Veto any Liberal Tax Increase, Protect Life, and Secure our Elections. Joe Lombardo is the leader Nevada needs, and he has my Complete and Total Endorsement for Governor!” the statement continued.
In a statement following the endorsement, Lombardo said he was “humbled to accept President Trump’s endorsement.”
“From his tough on crime policies to his unwavering support of law enforcement, I know that there has been no greater friend to veterans and police officers than President Trump,” Lombardo said. “I’m ready to get to work restoring law & order, fixing our education system, and building a strong economy in our great state as your next governor.”
Sisolak campaign spokesperson Reeves Oyster said in a statement that the endorsement was a sign that “Lombardo’s campaign is hitting the panic button.”
“After getting attacks from all sides on the airwaves, called out for hiding, ripped for having it both ways on immigration, and hours after a brutal editorial from the conservative Review-Journal on his lack of transparency and record of wasting taxpayer money, it’s no surprise Lombardo is reaching out for a lifeline,” Oyster said.
The endorsement likely deals a heavy blow to the chances of the other top candidates who have been trying to dislodge Lombardo from the apparent front-runner position since he announced his run last summer.
Lombardo’s top primary opponents, including Heller, Lee, and Reno attorney Joey Gilbert — who has touted himself as being “Trump from the jump” — have tried to portray Lombardo as not conservative enough for the Republican party, attacking him especially hard on immigration.
Heller’s campaign called the endorsement “puzzling.”
“It doesn’t change anything for us. Dean remains the only proven conservative in the race and the best option to fire Steve Sisolak in November,” Heller campaign spokesman Jack Finn said. “While it’s puzzling Trump would back a candidate who established a sanctuary city in Nevada, has spoken favorably about defunding the police, who implemented a vaccine mandate and who endorsed and contributed to Sisolak’s last campaign, Dean remains focused on communicating his plan to turn around Nevada’s schools and economy, making our neighborhoods safer and getting our state moving again.”
Ton of respect for President Trump but it's obvious he gets advice from the wrong people sometimes. He also endorsed Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney. We know how that worked out. Joe Lombardo's a liberal and Nevada conservatives know it.
— Dean Heller (@DeanHeller) April 28, 2022
In response to the endorsement, Lee, who switched parties last year and has referred to himself as a “Trump conservative,” tweeted that Lombardo “has lied to President Trump the same way he has lied to Nevadans about his record as a pro-Sanctuary city, anti-2nd amendment Liberal.”
It’s clear @JoeLombardoNV has lied to President Trump the same way he has lied to Nevadans about his record as a pro-Sanctuary city, anti-2nd amendment Liberal.
I look forward to working with President Trump as Nevada’s next Governor. https://t.co/CTGmla6aX9
— John Lee (@MayorJohnLee) April 28, 2022
Trump lost Nevada in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.