Las Vegas Sun

May 28, 2022

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Guinn spends $3 million; Russo reports $1.1 million

CARSON CITY -- With the primary election less than a week away, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kenny Guinn reported Tuesday he has collected $3.9 million, and has spent $3 million of it so far.

His primary opponent, Aaron Russo, is next, reporting he has spent $1.1 million, most of which came from his personal finances.

Tuesday was the deadline for political candidates to file their contribution and expenditure reports. Statewide candidates must submit their documents to the secretary of state's office in Carson City. They are considered filed if they are sent by certified mail with the Tuesday postmark.

None of the reports from the major candidates for governor had arrived by the close of office hours Tuesday.

Russo said his polls show him 0.5 to 3 percent ahead in the primary, but Peter Ernaut, campaign manager for Guinn, called that claim ridiculous.

"The proof will be in the pudding on election day," Ernaut said.

Ernaut said about 30 percent of the $3.9 million Guinn has collected is from the gaming industry. The vast majority of the contributions since January are not from the casinos but from other businesses and individuals, Ernaut added.

In the prior report at year's end, 35 percent of Guinn's campaign contributions were from the casinos.

Russo said most of his money has been spent on television advertisements and his staff are volunteers.

Guinn's re- port shows $509,000 on staff; $400,000 spent on television; $330,000 on radio; $250,000 on billboards; $130,000 on direct mail; and $92,000 on polling.

Lt. Gov. Lonnie Hammargren, in third place in the polls, said he has raised $50,000 and put $25,000 of his own money into the campaign. He has paid out $51,952 with some bills still outstanding.

Hammargren, who didn't receive any casino contributions, said he thinks Nevada should change its law to mirror New Jersey, which prohibits gaming businesses from making political donations.

He hasn't spent a dime on television advertisements. "Most of money went for signs. People said when I put up signs, they would donate. I put up the signs but they didn't give any money."

Meanwhile Las Vegas Mayor Jan Laverty Jones, a late entrant in the contest for the Democratic nomination, reported she has received $758,614 and spent $527,510.

Like Guinn, Jones got some big contributions from Las Vegas gaming companies or individuals. For instance, Steve Wynn's five casinos -- the not-yet-open Bellagio, the Golden Nugget in Laughlin and the Golden Nugget, Mirage and Treasure Island in Las Vegas, each gave $10,000.

Jones reported $10,000 donations each from Jack Binion, Harrah's in Las Vegas, the Horseshoe, Lady Luck, Palace Station, SES Gaming, Station Casinos and the Tropicana.

Other $10,000 contributions to the mayor came from Astrea Aviation Services; Bryan Carney, Coast West Inc., Facilities Communications, James Gilstrap, Eric Hanson, Mark Johnson, John Larson, Los Potros Polo Farms and Paul Steelman.

Her biggest contribution of $20,000 was from Melissa Eastman.

Jones' opponent, Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, received $32,144 in donations and has spent about $33,641.

Neal, who has run a shoestring campaign, received his largest contribution, $5,000, from the Laborers International Union 169 in Reno; $1,000 from the Operating Engineers local 3 in Reno; and $1,000 from COPE, the political arm of the Nevada State AFL-CIO.

Neal spokesman Andrew Barbano said the fund-raising effort was curtailed when Neal was hurt in an auto accident. He was scheduled to go to the NAACP national convention in Atlanta that week and also had other appointments in the East to talk about campaign contributions.

Neal has put $2,600 of his own money in the campaign. He received "zip" from the casino industry, Barbano said. Neal has advocated raising gaming taxes and eliminating tax break for the business.