With Harry Reid’s Help, Moderate Democrat Triumphs In Nevada Governor Primary

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak won the Democratic nomination for governor in Nevada on Tuesday night, giving the party a moderate nominee for one of its key pick-up opportunities this November.

Sisolak’s main opponent in the race was Chris Giunchigliani, another Clark County Commission member who was viewed as the more progressive of the two candidates. Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, has more than two-thirds of the state’s population.

Sisolak, a strong fundraiser, was able to outspend Giunchigliani by a four-to-one margin on television ads. He won the backing of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) and his allies. Giunchigliani had the support of EMILY’s List, a group that promotes female Democrats who back abortion rights, and she earned an endorsement from 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Sisolak will now face GOP Attorney General Adam Laxalt in the general election. Laxalt, who comes from a well-known Nevada political family, is more conservative than the state’s widely popular outgoing governor, Republican Brian Sandoval. Democrats hope Sisolak can claim the moderate mantle from Sandoval in a state where, although Democrats have made gains, they haven’t been elected to the governorship in two decades. 

Nevada is considered a major pickup opportunity for Democrats, who are down to just 16 governorships, while Republicans control more than twice as many. Clinton narrowly won Nevada in 2016, as Democrats also picked up one of the state’s Senate seats and two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

While Sisolak was considered the more moderate candidate, he aired ads on a host of liberal policy priorities, emphasizing his support for Planned Parenthood, highlighting his background as a single father and promising to stand up to President Donald Trump. He also pointed to his work to bring the NHL’s Golden Knights and NFL’s Raiders to the city. 

“I’ll take on the [National Rifle Association], I’ll take on big pharma, and I’ll take on Donald Trump,” Sisolak said in one television ad. 

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