RENO, Nevada. — Republican Nevada gubernatorial candidate Joe Lombardo sought in a debate Sunday to distance himself from former President Donald Trump over his lies about the 2020 election, but said Trump’s policies were better than those of the Biden administration, to the They blame inflation and rising interest rates.
“It is an abysmal failure. In my opinion, Trump moved the country forward,” Lombardo said. But when asked if Trump was “a great president,” Lombardo hesitated, saying, “I wouldn’t say great, I think he was a good president.”
Lombardo said he was upset by Trump’s false claims of a stolen election, said he “wasn’t shying away from that” and agreed that Trump’s lying about voter fraud undermined voter confidence.
Trump is scheduled to campaign for Lombardo next weekend, setting up a potentially awkward meeting.
The debate with the current Democratic governor. Steve Sisolak was a mostly cordial exchange buoyed by issues that are defining midterm careers across the country: abortion rights, the economy and inflation, education and crime, which by some measures is in the Las Vegas area. Vegas where Lombardo has developed his law career. enforcement and has served as sheriff since 2015.
A third of registered voters in Nevada are Democrats, while nonpartisan voters barely outnumber Republicans, making the race one of the most closely watched in the country. Nonpartisan registration has outpaced both major parties this year and Democratic registration has largely stagnated, with some changing their registration to Republican.
Echoing the efforts of Democrats across the country, Sisolak sought to make abortion access a centerpiece of the campaign, saying voters “have a clear choice in this race.” It’s a complicated issue for Lombardo, who has touted since the Republican primary that he would govern through a “pro-life lens” but has changed his mind about certain measures.
Sisolak is a strong advocate for abortion rights and has worked to make Nevada a safe haven for the procedure, as neighboring Utah, Arizona and Idaho have restricted access. He has tried to paint Lombardo as an anti-abortion extremist. A large screen outside the debate read: “Joe Lombardo wants to ban contraception.”
Lombardo will keep contraceptives “affordable,” he said on his website in a 106-word explanation of his stance on abortion that during the primary race he had three words: “Joe is pro-life.”
Lombardo told KRNV-TV he would rescind Sisolak’s June executive order protecting out-of-state abortion patients and in-state providers. Days later, he told The Associated Press only that he would view it through a “pro-life lens,” but did not cite a specific action. In a letter posted on his website last week, he said he would uphold the order.
Earlier this month, Lombardo said he would oppose a national abortion ban proposed by South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham.
Lombardo said Sunday that he supports laws requiring parents to be notified if a minor has an abortion and legislation requiring a waiting period between the consultation and the abortion. He said that he does not support mandatory ultrasounds.
A state law allows abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Lombardo said “there is nothing the governor can do” to change that law.
Sisolak scoffed at a question about whether he supports abortions at 28, 30 or 32 weeks. She said it was a “volatile” question, given that the vast majority of abortions occur before 21 weeks, calling it “political theater.”
CRIME AND PUBLIC SAFETY
Sisolak has the final say on the criminal justice bills coming out of Carson City. Lombardo enforces those laws in Clark County.
Lombardo said crime was down for six years there but has risen in the past two years, for which he blamed a Democrat-controlled state government that passed “crime-soft legislation,” including a law that increased the number dollars for a robbery. to be considered a felony from $650 to $1,200 and increased the weight of drugs qualifying for felony trafficking.
Debate moderator Jon Ralston, executive director of the Nevada Independent, noted that the Lombardo sheriff’s department was neutral on the bill. Lombardo said his department had to give in, “knowing it was still bad legislation.”
Ralston noted that Sisolak once called Lombardo the “best sheriff in America.” But Sisolak said Lombardo’s policies have changed as he has sought the governor’s office.
“People are no safer today than they were eight years ago,” when Lombardo became sheriff, he said. “I met with a round table of local businesses, who told me that one of the main problems they have is theft. They can’t even get (Las Vegas police) to respond to a robbery because it’s so low on their list.”
Lombardo said that was “absolutely untrue” and that criminal justice reforms mean police have to respond to more robberies.
The Democratic governor defended his decision to close non-essential businesses at the start of the pandemic. He said he remembered looking at the Las Vegas Strip and “knowing that if he signed this executive order he would shut down the Strip and put 250,000 people out of work.”
“Those lives were more important to me,” said Sisolak, who is endorsed by the Nevada Chamber of Commerce. “The economy is back. Those lives we could never get back. There are 11,051 empty seats at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner right now.”
Lombardo has criticized the longevity of school and business closures and Sisolak’s determinations about which businesses were essential, calling them “too draconian.”
“We didn’t have to be a beta agency or a beta state or a beta department. You can trust what other people are doing in other states that were showing success,” she said. “I think the governor was solely based on what (California Governor) Gavin Newsom advised him.”
Lombardo and Sisolak said they support raising teachers’ pay. Lombardo said he would back a Consumer Price Index-linked increase of around 2-3%, but said the exact amount would be negotiated. Sisolak said he would raise teachers’ starting pay and negotiate raises “more than 3%.”
The sheriff said he would restore a provision in Nevada’s “Read by Grade 3” program that curbs third graders who don’t read on grade level and supports expansion of charter schools, which unions oppose. of teachers.
Lombardo, like other Republicans, strongly supports voucher programs that provide public money for students to attend private schools, saying parents should have options other than “failing schools.”
Nevada has long been placed near the bottom of national education rankings. The Clark County School District, with 326,000 students, is fifth in size in the nation and has overcome staffing shortages. Lombardo has indicated that he would consider splitting CCSD.
Sisolak said the state can’t afford to drain funding from the cash-strapped public school system, noting that private schools “don’t have to take in students who are more expensive to teach,” such as those with disabilities. learners or English learners. .
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