Fiore leaves crowded governor race, tries hand at treasurer instead
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity.
Those following the rather colorful political career of Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore notice that the declared Republican gubernatorial candidate has shifted gears.
She did not file to be a candidate for governor. Now she's trying to get elected as state treasurer.
This, of course, comes after she already put out an internet ad showing her firing a gun for her “three shot plan” for Nevada.
MIKE PREVATT: What is behind this shift?
JOHN L. SMITH: Well, I think political survival, quite frankly. Her numbers weren't high enough in the Republican primary. The one thing that she has proven skillful is at fundraising. As of January, she'd raised about $700,000 for that elusive gubernatorial run.
Treasurer's a whole different ballgame for her. It's something that's less well known by the voting public and clearly that she sees that as an opportunity. And if we know Michele Fiore's history, we know that she's all about opportunity.
PREVATT: She’s a very public figure throughout the state even though she's a city council person in Las Vegas. Why do you think her numbers weren't so high?
SMITH: I just think there are controversies surrounding her and the field is crowded. Sheriff Joe Lombardo has big name recognition and probably higher positives in some communities. And you've got others in disgrace, too, including Dean Heller, who is a former U.S. senator. So, there was a lot of competition there.
PREVATT: Didn’t she court Trump personally to get his support?
SMITH: Yes. Now, this is one of those things where I'm thinking restraining order for Michele. That's a joke. She is an absolute avid super Trumper. It's hard to find Republican party members who are not super Trumpers in Nevada. But she has a special case. I mean, in her commercial that attracted so much attention, according to her people, a couple, or almost 3 million views. Trump's image was in there.
He did not endorse her. But he was there. She touted her relationship with him, apparently took out an advertisement in Florida. I probably sent flowers; I don't know. But you know, the bottom line is she loves Trump yesterday, today, and tomorrow and forever.
PREVATT: It sounds like Fiore has some baggage. In 2014, it was reported that she had hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax liens registered against her. Does she have a chance in this treasurer's race?
SMITH: That’s the interesting part of this, you would think that someone with that in her background, with the specter of an FBI inquiry into some political events in her life, which is something that's not resolved, you would think that that would be enough on a person's plate that you wouldn't run for state treasurer. Its treasurer who is responsible for maintaining state funds by investing and maintaining the state budget and other important functions.
It's a constitutional office, an important office, even if it's not well understood or focused on in political seasons. Michele Fiore will be competitive because she's tough as nails on the campaign trail.
PREVATT: Do you think for a voter who might consider voting for her, the personal financial blemishes would even matter?
SMITH: I'm not so sure that it would. I think people are polarized. I think most Republicans are probably going to vote their ticket and same goes for Democrats. So, there'll be a lot of kind of quick button pushing on this one, I think. However, Michele Fiore has a lot to hit. And if the incumbent chooses to do so, it could cost her.
PREVATT: How do you expect some of these races to shape up from a journalistic point of view and are you looking forward to covering them?
SMITH: There's kind of a wicked part of me that really loves to cover races because they can be so, so cruel to each other and it's weird, it's kind of watching an auto accident, I guess, you can't turn away.
It’s an interesting moment in Nevada history, politically. You have political where some members of those parties are fighting to be less polarized and less extreme. They seem to be losing out on that voice. It's an interesting transitional time for the state and it's an off presidential year election. So, you know, anything goes.
John L. Smith, State of Nevada contributor