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Clark County sheriff's star on the rise despite a jump in homicides

John Locher/Associated Press

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo announces his candidacy for governor in June.

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo has started strong in his campaign for governor, but a spike in Las Vegas homicides could give ammunition to his opponents, according to longtime Nevada political observer John L. Smith.

Smith, a contributor to KNPR’s State of Nevada, said recent polling showing Lombardo running second in the race to be the Republican nominee for governor was good news for his campaign.

“He's very competitive,” Smith said. “He trails Dean Heller, but very competitive.”

Heller, a former senator, congressman, secretary of state, and state lawmaker “has been in the public eye statewide for a quarter-century,” Smith said.

The poll results were released as Lombard begins to make himself known to voters in Reno and elsewhere in Northern Nevada.

“Lombardo, in Clark County, everyone knows that name,” Smith said. “You get outside of Clark County, and that's not a name everyone knows.”

One issue Lombardo is likely to face is the big jump in homicides in Clark County, According to Las Vegas police statistics, there have been 67 percent more killings this year compared to the same time last year.

“I don't know that it's whether it's fair or not, to talk about that statistic, and try to kind of hang it on Lombardo,” Smith said. “However, I wouldn't doubt that people will try to do that.”

Smith said the homicide increase “generally boils down to a substantial increase of guns on the street.”

“These are homicides, yes, they occur in many forms, but gun violence is the leading cause.”

John L. Smith, contributor, State of Nevada

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