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October 7, 2022

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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK:

Democrats’ voter turnout for primary was low, but not unexpected

Primary Election Day 2022

Steve Marcus

A voter heads to the polls at Veterans Memorial Leisure Center in Summerlin Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Primary Election Day 2022

A pole worker lays out Launch slideshow »

While more Nevada Republicans than Democrats voted last week in the primary election, the overall turnout of 23.92% was “not too impressive” but also “not too surprising,” said David Damore, professor and chair of the UNLV department of political science.

About 220,472 Republicans voted, or about 35% of those registered, according to the Nevada Secretary of State Office’s website as of Thursday. About 135,296 Democrats voted, or 18% of the party’s registered voters.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Spokesman T.W. Arrighi said in a statement that “you can’t manufacture voter enthusiasm out of thin air, and a primary voting disparity like this in Nevada is special.”

“Democrat policy failure on a historic level has helped move Nevada further and further toward the GOP,” Arrighi said.

It was expected that Republicans would have a bigger turnout because most of the notable races — U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and governor — featured incumbent Democratic candidates, Damore said.

Are the primary numbers indicative of what’s to come in the midterms? Probably not.

Damore expects the voter turnout in November to be somewhere between the 2014 and 2018 midterm numbers. In 2014, about 46% of registered voters participated, and in 2018 it was about 62%, Damore said.

The number of people who have moved to the state in the past couple of years has also increased, Damore said, so the turnout could be greater than in 2018.

And there’s a few notable races, including Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., in what is expected to be closely contested against Republican Adam Laxalt, and Gov. Steve Sisolak seeking re-election against Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, that will enhance the turnout.

“You’re going to have a ton of money in the state for federal races,” Damore said, and more groups will be coming in with get-out-the-vote campaigns.

Another big takeaway for the primary, Damore said, is how many people used the mail-in voting system, showing that more people are getting used to the new process, despite Republicans’ concerns about the legitimacy of the process. About 42% of total voters mailed in a ballot, whereas about 23% voted on Election Day.

More claims of rigged election

Reno attorney Joey Gilbert, who lost to Lombardo in the gubernatorial primary last week, is doubling down on his intention to file a lawsuit, claiming the election was rigged.

In a Facebook post Tuesday he wrote “maybe the establishment and swamp rats forgot who they’re dealing with. I smell a lawsuit because this STINKS.”

Two days later he posted that he will not concede until “every legal vote is counted legitimately.”

While the total vote count is not official as mail-in ballots are still being tallied, Lombardo has 21,558 more votes than Gilbert, according to the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office. The Associated Press on Tuesday called the race for Lombardo.

“Laws have been broken and someone must challenge this, and I happen to be an individual with ‘standing’ who possesses the background, pedigree, resources and courage to take this fight forward,” Gilbert wrote.

Gilbert said this is bigger than him. He is more concerned about November, believing that if the election process does not get figured out, then Sisolak will win.

He said if he has to be the one to challenge the election process so Republicans like Attorney General candidate Sigal Chattah, Laxalt and Lombardo get into office, then that is what he will do.

While his post was not a “concession,” per say, it seems to be the closest Gilbert will get to one. He said Lombardo “would be a significant improvement over Sisolak.”

Regardless, Gilbert doesn’t plan on backing away from the spotlight.

“I started this fight in March 2020,” Gilbert wrote, “and I am not going anywhere. Our fight has only shifted to other realms and territories, but the passion and patriotism remains!”

What your senators are up to

Nevada Democratic Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto joined others in passing the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, which aims to ensure that veterans who are exposed to toxins during their service get access to health care and treatment at Veterans Affairs facilities.

The legislation will expand VA health care eligibility to combat veterans who served post-9/11 and will strengthen federal research on toxic exposure, according to a statement from Cortez Masto’s office. It will also add 23 burn pit and toxic exposure-related conditions to the VA’s list of service presumptions.

“Nevada’s veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, and it’s my job in the Senate to make sure we’re honoring their service by providing them and their families with the benefits they need,” Cortez Masto said in a statement.

Rosen in a statement said it was important bipartisan legislation that will provide veterans with the long-overdue care they deserve.

“Millions of American servicemembers have been exposed to toxic smoke, burn pits, or Agent Orange and have been denied care due to bureaucratic red tape,” Rosen said.

Rosen also last week announced that Nevada will receive more than $1.4 million to support sagebrush ecosystem restoration using funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, her office said in a statement. The funding comes after she, Cortez Masto and other Western senators sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland asking for funds to address the restoration needs of the sagebrush ecosystem.

“Sagebrush restoration helps support biodiversity, contributes to Nevada’s economy, and can help reduce the threat of wildfires,” Rosen said in a statement. “I am proud to announce that Nevada will receive more than $1.4 million for 15 projects throughout our state to restore sagebrush ecosystems and protect our precious landscape in Nevada.”

Countdown

Days to midterms: 141