#NVGov Republicans in the National Spotlight for Making Primary All About Trump

POLITICO: “[Trump] came up regularly throughout a raucous GOP primary debate in Nevada last week, as candidates laid out Trump-like policy platforms.”

After last week’s “raucous” debate, the messy GOP primary for governor is getting national attention for centering their campaigns and platforms around Trump. Desperate to win a competitive primary, candidates are putting Nevadans on the back burner as they fight for Trump’s support and “craft their campaigns in his image.”

The crowded field stacked Trump references while on stage–from Dean Heller bragging about speaking with him on the phone prior to the debate, to Michele Fiore touting being the first elected official to endorse him for President in 2016. Meanwhile, Joe Lombardo, who was the only candidate to skip the debate, continues to alienate the conservative base.

“With eight Republican candidates for governor taking the stage at last week’s debate, it couldn’t be more clear how chaotic and Trump-like this primary is,” said Nevada Democratic Victory spokesperson Mallory Payne. “Instead of offering real plans designed to help Nevada families, the field is solely focused on winning over Trump and his supporters.”

POLITICO: Trump lost these states. Republican candidates for governor are emulating him anyway.

January 12, 2022
Zach Montellaro and Holly Otterbein

Key points:

  • Donald Trump lost Nevada in 2020. He got beaten in Pennsylvania and Arizona, too. But in those swing states and more, the former president’s lingering hold on the GOP has the candidates running for governor crafting their campaigns in his image.
  • He came up regularly throughout a raucous GOP primary debate in Nevada last week, as candidates laid out Trump-like policy platforms, including frequent warnings about voter fraud. Pennsylvania Republicans are racing to hire staff who may have Trump’s ear and to roll out the support of those who have a connection to him.
  • And Trump’s potential endorsement is looming over primaries — starting with Arizona, where he will appear on stage with his anointed gubernatorial candidate during his first rally of the midterm year this weekend.
  • National politics seeped into governor’s races years before Trump came onto the political scene — and gubernatorial campaigns still have maintained a degree of unique detachment. But Trump’s influence over the GOP has rapidly pushed his signature policies and rhetoric into 2022 governor’s races — especially his false, conspiratorial claims that “election integrity” is under threat or even that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Republican candidates are parroting those claims while running for offices that will have significant influence over election procedures in their states, potentially including certification of future elections.
  • ”I tell [Trump], the only way we can guarantee that, in 2024, we have a Republican president, is we need a leader here in the state of Nevada that understands our election laws and [is] willing to change them,” Dean Heller, a former Republican senator now running for Nevada governor, said during the recent debate. He called the state’s current laws “corrupt” and said that he will make the state elections “fair.”
  • “Republicans win when the process is fair,” said Heller, who occasionally clashed with Trump during the president’s first year but later pulled Trump close during his losing 2018 campaign. “I want a Republican president in 2024. It is going to take a Republican governor to make the necessary changes in order to make that happen.”
  • Democrats across the battleground states have sought to further highlight the candidates’ ties to Trump … And Nevada Democrats warned on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that the Republican field continues “to embrace those dangerous lies and instill doubt about the integrity of Nevada’s elections.”

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