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Review-Journal endorsement: Governor of Nevada

Updated October 21, 2022 - 9:02 am

Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, has held public office in Nevada for 23 years and now faces perhaps the most tightly contested election of his career. Polls show him virtually tied in his re-election bid against Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, a Republican.

It’s hard not to sympathize with the governor’s plight. History dealt him an unfortunate hand. Gov. Sisolak entered office in January of 2019, and 13 months later the nation was in the thralls of a public health crisis not seen in a century.

Gov. Sisolak faced withering criticism for his handling of the pandemic, as he took the more heavy-handed approach favored by Democrats across the country. Schools were closed longer than they needed to be. Mandates and edicts were issued with minimal explanation for their justification. Nevada was one of the last states to lift its mask requirement. The U.S. Supreme Court even chided the state’s order keeping churches closed.

“I clearly — and I don’t regret it,” Gov. Sisolak said, “prioritized saving lives over the economy.”

Other aspects of the governor’s record raise concerns. He ran as a moderate, but did little to temper the progressive instincts of legislative Democrats. He signed a bill allowing state employees to collectively bargain, which will be a fiscal albatross for the state. Gov. Sisolak now says he supports breaking up the Clark County School District, but he did little during his first two legislative sessions to promote reform of the state’s moribund public education system. The governor signed legislation keeping secret some information of state pension recipients. Several agencies — including the DMV and unemployment office — have been a mess.

Gov. Sisolak also supported tax hikes during the 2021 session. Although he rules out any revenue increases in 2023, he would be under intense pressure from Democratic lawmakers to reverse that stance in a final lame-duck session in 2025.

Mr. Lombardo comes with his own baggage, particularly an aversion to open records. As sheriff, he cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting the release of material that is public under the law. He said his concerns are related to the unique circumstances of law enforcement and promised this wouldn’t carry over more broadly if he is elected. We will hold him to it.

Mr. Lombardo argues his career in law enforcement gives him a unique perspective on public safety and criminal justice reform. “You’ve got to make it harder to be a criminal,” he said. “They’ve made it easier.” He favors school choice and other reforms, saying his priority would be to ensure the state is no longer at “the bottom of barrel” when it comes to academic progress. Mr. Lombardo would be a formidable and vital check on an activist Democratic Legislature.

Gov. Sisolak has served honorably, but we believe change is in order. Vote for Joe Lombardo.

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