Hugh Jackson, Nevada Current
January 18, 2024
Nevada Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo Thursday endorsed former President Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination.
For “all practical purposes … the race is over,” Lombardo said while announcing his endorsement in an interview with the Nevada Independent.
Lombardo in August indicated he might stay neutral in the nominating contest, saying during a press conference that he would “support whoever is successful in the primary.”
Lombardo also told the Independent Thursday that while he would be caucusing for Trump in the presidential caucuses administered by the Nevada State Republican Party, he would also vote in the state-run presidential preference primary for “none of these candidates.”
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is the only active candidate listed on the state primary ballot.
The state party, chaired by indicted Nevada fake elector Michael McDonald, had declared that anyone who filed for the state-run primary on Feb. 6 would be banned from participating in the party-run caucus on Feb. 8.
The fake elector scheme that McDonald and five other Nevadans participated in was central to Trump’s plan to overturn the 2020 election that he lost to Joe Biden, which culminated in the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Trump is facing a federal criminal indictment as well as one in Georgia in connection with his efforts to overturn the election results.
Lombardo Thursday brushed off the indictments. “I feel comfortable, and my belief [is] you’re innocent until proven guilty,” Lombardo told the Independent.
Staff from Republican presidential campaigns and other observers have criticized the Nevada State Republican Party’s presidential caucus, arguing the state party deliberately designed and scheduled the contest to assure Trump wins Nevada’s delegates to the Republican National Convention.
McDonald initially denied any favoritism to Trump. However, while introducing Trump during a rally in Reno last month, McDonald abandoned any pretense of neutrality.
“You come out to your location, you walk in with your neighbors, you sit with your neighbors and tell them how great Donald Trump is. And then you cast your ballot for Donald J. Trump,” McDonald told the crowd.
“You don’t need February 6,” McDonald continued, referring to the state of the state-run primary. “That’s for the Democrats.”
Lombardo, along with Lt. Gov. Stavros Anthony and other Nevada Republicans, have criticized the state party for confusing voters by scheduling a caucus even though the state is required by law to hold a primary.
If enough Trump supporters were to emulate Lombardo’s example, it’s conceivable that Haley could lose the primary to “none of these candidates.”
The Haley campaign has no noticeable presence in Nevada, nor has it thus far indicated it plans to establish any.
Haley finished third in the Iowa caucuses earlier this week. Her campaign has long been far more focused on Tuesday’s primary in New Hampshire, where Haley has been steadily gaining on Trump, and where one poll this week showed the two of them tied at 40%, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis a very distant third at 4%.
DeSantis filed for Nevada’s party-run caucuses, not the state-run primary, but the DeSantis campaign has not had a significant presence in Nevada for months. Following his second-place finish in Iowa, DeSantis has declared he is making his stand in the state that comes after Nevada, South Carolina.
Lombardo was endorsed by Trump in April 2022 at exactly the same time DeSantis was delivering an address for Adam Laxalt, who was campaigning for the U.S. Senate at the time.
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