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'Cesspool of crime,' fraud allegations, push for voting changes: How are Nevadans feeling ahead of November?

AP Photo/John Locher

Former President Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with Joe Lombardo, Clark County sheriff and Republican candidate for Nevada governor, next to Republican Nevada Senate candidate Adam Laxalt, right, during an event Friday, July 8, 2022, in Las Vegas.

It’s been nearly a month since Nevadans went to the polls to select who will appear on November’s ballot.

But that was just the beginning.

Despite losing the Republican primary for governor to Sheriff Joe Lombardo by 26,000 votes, Joey Gilbert is claiming election fraud.

Then we had the Supreme Court decision limiting abortion rights.

And just last week, former President Donald Trump called Las Vegas a “ cesspool of crime,” even as Clark County’s top crime fighter, Lombardo, sat a few feet away.

So, what’s any of it mean? And what impact will any of that have on the election this fall?

Hugh Jackson, founder and editor, Nevada Current, and Sondra Cosgrove, executive director of Vote Nevada, at the KNPR studio on July 13, 2022.

Joey Gilbert ran in the GOP primary for governor and lost to Lombardo by about 26,000. Would his supporters support Lombardo? 

“Gilbert had a much more visceral connection with that deep base,” Hugh Jackson, editor of the Nevada Current, said. “I think that, come the general election, the people who show up --and I've been on the show before saying that I expect Republicans to show up, I don't know if Democrats are going to but I expect Republicans to show up-- they'll vote for Lombardo just because they'll vote for a potted plant if it has an ‘R’ after its name.”

Sondra Cosgrove, a history professor at College of Southern Nevada, said there’s certain tropes or themes Trump likes to push on, including crime. She thinks it will be hard for Lombardo to pivot from Trump’s recent visit to moderate voters.

But the “cesspool comment may not matter either way.

“I would say it probably doesn't matter,” said Jeremy Gelman, a professor at University of Nevada, Reno. “Republicans want to hear that there's crime. That's an issue that speaks to their base. And when Republican voters hear that, they don't usually blame the police for that.”

In the meantime, is abortion rights galvanizing Nevada Democrats this fall?

Cosgrove sees women focusing on ballot initiative to put an equal rights amendment into the state constitution. “That's where I see the organizing happening among the women that I know, is to get organized to get that passed.”

Though, Jackson believes abortion will be the focus. 

“The democracy issues are all kind of aligned and connected,” he said. “And I think that those are the one thing that will drive at least some Democratic turnout to the degree that Democrats are driven to the polls, and they weren't driven in the primaries.”

Doug Goodman is the founder of Nevadans for Election Reform, a push to allow Nevada to hold open primaries and ranked-choice voting. They’ve gathered nearly twice as many signatures needed.

“What this looks to do is to return the voice to these voters, that largest voting bloc, and also give all voters a much larger choice,” Goodman said. 

Hugh Jackson, founder and editor, Nevada Current;  Sondra Cosgrove, executive director, Vote Nevada and history professor, College of Southern Nevada; Doug Goodman, founder and edecutive director, Nevadans for Election Reform;  Jeremy Gelman, associate professor of political science, University of Nevada, Reno

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Paul serves as KNPR's producer and reporter in Northern Nevada. Based in Reno, Paul specializes in covering state government and the legislature.