Nevada Newsmakers

News - November 6, 2023 - by Ray Hagar

Nevada's Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo set a single-session record for vetoes in 2023, killing 75 bills from a Legislature dominated by Democrats.

Lombardo does not want to do that again in the 2025 session, so he said on Nevada Newsmakers recently that he is doing what he can to elect more Republicans and stop Democrats from gaining super-majorities in both the state Senate and Assembly.

"That's a huge concern and so much of a concern that I've been proactive in identifying (new GOP) candidates and supporting current candidates on the Republican side of the aisle," Lombardo told host Sam Shad.

"The super-majority has to be prevented, whatever partisan side of the aisle you're looking at," Lombardo said.

Democrats, with their base of power in populous Clark County, are seeking to cement veto-proof super-majorities in both houses of the Legislature. Democrats held a 28-seat super-majority in the Assembly in 2023 and were just one seat away from holding a 14-member super-majority in the state Senate.

"And so we're proactive as a campaign and as me, personally, as the governor, in identifying candidates, supporting candidates and helping them be successful in their election time," Lombardo said.

Lombardo recently endorsed four new candidates for seats in the Legislature, with two being former or current first-responders:

April Arndt, a retired Henderson police officer, received Lombardo's endorsement for her Assembly District 21 race. A mother of three, Arndt is running in a district with an incumbent Democrat and a 5-point Democratic lead in voter registration.

John Steinbeck, Clark County Fire Chief, has received Lombardo's endorsement in Senate District 18. It is an open seat that has already attracted at least two other Republican candidates.

Lori Rogich, wife of the former ambassador to Iceland and national GOP political consultant Sig Rogich, has received Lombardo's endorsement in Senate District 11. She will face Democratic Sen. Dallas Harris, who is considered a rising legislative star by her Democratic counterparts. In 2021, Lori Rogich won a federal lawsuit against the Clark County School District for not providing services to adequately met the needs of a student with dyslexia.

David Brog was endorsed by Lombardo in early September for the seat representing Assembly District 37. On the X social media site (formerly Twitter) Brog has this message: "Nevadans deserve leaders who will put people above party to deliver solutions for their constituents."

Lombardo said he is trying to rub out "one-party rule."

"You know, single-party rule doesn't work, right?" Lombardo said. "Well, everybody knows that. You even have people on the other side of the aisle, the Democrats that are opposing me, say it doesn't work."

Democratic super-majorities in both houses could also make Lombardo politically irrelevant -- one year before he's up for re-election -- by giving Democrats to power to override any of his vetoes. It is a situation Nevada has not seen since 2009, when Republican Jim Gibbons, R-Sparks, was governor.

"So we need to prevent that for the people of the state of Nevada, not for me personally," Lombardo said. "The last thing I want to do is be non-relevant through a legislative session, meaning that if I don't agree with some legislation, I can simply veto it and then it will be put back to the vote of the Legislature and they will just re-affirm the vote, their support of it."

Lombardo fears Democrats could reintroduce and pass about 40 bills he vetoed in 2023 if they get super majorities in both houses. He called Democratic bills vetoed in 2023 "bad legislation."

"In my opinion, a veto is bad government, bad legislation, bad language that is presented to me, to where I have to make an evaluation, whether it's good legislation or not," he said. "A veto means I think it was poor legislation and for that number (75) to reach my desk, is unacceptable.

"And I believe personally that it's more of a testing -- testing of me as a Republican governor versus a Democratic majority."

To stop Democratic super-majorities in the 2025 session, Republicans must do well in the 2024 election.

Yet Lombardo fears that influential members of the Nevada Republican Party are already confusing conservative voters by holding a party-run presidential primary caucus even though there will also be a state-run presidential primary election.

GOP voters will have to choose to vote in one or the other since voting in both will be prohibited, according to published reports. Candidates also must decide on entering the caucus or primary, Lombardo said.

"It's detrimental to the candidates and their ability to be part of both processes. So if you decide to be in the primary process, you can't participate in the caucus," Lombardo said.

"That's unacceptable for the voters and the understanding of how things should be done," Lombardo said. "And this is not going to help you down the road. No, no, no. It won't do. I think it just continues the disarray or the chaos that is occurring within the Republican Party currently."

Lombardo says his efforts to correct the caucus/primary dilemma has not been successful.

"So it's unfortunate," he said. "I've had numerous conversations both with the state party and other individuals involved and it is falling on deaf ears."

CYBER ATTACKS ON GAMING CORPORATIONS: The recent cyber attacks on Las Vegas gaming giants Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts is something Lombardo fears could happen to the state government.

MGM lost about $100 million because of the attack, according to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Cybersecurity experts have suggested Caesars did not suffer the same fate as MGM since it paid ransom to the hackers.

"They have robust systems obviously in place to hopefully deter this type of incident," Lombardo said. "But it usually comes down to the lowest denominator.

"You have an employee who has access to that information," he continued. "A ruse is put upon that employee and the employee falls for it and provides, you know, critical information to the suspect or the criminal or the crook or wherever you want to call them.

"And then subsequently the entire corporation is held hostage. And the same thing could happen to the state."

Lombardo would not say who had the better response to the threat, MGM or Caesars.

"I don't have an opinion on that," he said. "That's a corporate decision."