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Candidates “Jockeyed to Pay Tribute to Former President Donald Trump” in First Debate of Crowded NV GOP Primary

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Last night, the extremist candidates for Nevada governor echoed COVID and election conspiracy theories in their first major GOP candidate forum. Noticeably absent from the crowded stage was Joe Lombardo, who refused to attend the debate in Northern Nevada. Despite not appearing, Lombardo still drew harsh criticism from the rest of the field, who went after his record as Clark County Sheriff. Former Senator Dean Heller was also mocked by a jeering crowd as the Republicans battled to out-Trump one another for far-right support.

Here’s what people are saying about the debate:

  • The Nevada Independent: “Several candidates jockeyed to pay tribute to former President Donald Trump, with Fiore arguing she was the first elected official to endorse him and Gilbert saying he was ‘Trump from the jump.’ Heller credited the crowd size to ‘the Trump effect,’ and mentioned several times that he had spoken with Trump earlier in the day.”
  • Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Dean Heller, the former U.S. senator and secretary of state, drew groans and jeers when he touted himself as the ‘only proven conservative’ in the field and a strong backer of former President Donald Trump and his political agenda.”
  • Las Vegas Review-Journal: “They sounded longstanding Republican and conservative allegations of tainted or dishonest elections.”
  • Associated Press: “Hundreds of exuberant Republicans booed and jeered at former U.S. Sen. Dean Heller on Thursday night.”
  • KOLO 8 News Now: “Although today is the first anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, there weren’t any questions or answers about it.”
  • Nevada Current: “Joey Gilbert … says one of his opponents, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, refuses to talk about issues and is declining opportunities to debate.”
  • Associated Press’ Sam Metz: “Dean Heller LOL’d when John Lee called himself the most conservative candidate on stage … Michele Fiore says she paid $75 to fly a cut out of Sheriff Lombardo up to Reno.”

“The GOP candidates for Nevada governor are tearing each other apart, and last night’s debate proved that there is no front runner in this divisive race to the far-right,” said DGA Senior Communications Advisor Christina Amestoy. “The Republican primary field is failing to deliver meaningful solutions to the pandemic or Nevada’s economic recovery — instead, they’re spreading harmful conspiracy theories out of desperation for Trump’s support. And it’s anyone’s guess just who will win it.”