(NewsNation) — The tight Nevada governor’s race, which has held national attention during the 2022 midterms, has been called by NewsNation/ Decision Desk HQ in favor of Republican Joe Lombardo.
Incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak has been locked in a narrow race for reelection against Lombardo, the sheriff of the most populous county in the state. The two once worked together to raise funds for the victims of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history that took place at a Las Vegas concert in 2017. Since then, campaigning has left no fond words between the candidates.
Sisolak acknowledged the projection in a statement, where he called on Nevadans to respect the results.
“Obviously that is not the outcome I want, but I believe in our election system, in democracy and honoring the will of Nevada voters,” Sisolak wrote. “So whether you voted for me or Sheriff Lombardo, it is important that we now come together to continue moving the state forward.”
Election officials were still tabulating results for the race days after the polls closed as they worked through processing mail-in ballots in Nevada’s two largest counties, Clark and Washoe.
The close race has been marked with sharp campaign ads funded by both parties and criticism traded back and forth over policy. The Democratic governor has far out-raised and out-spent the Republican sheriff, campaign finance records show.
Nevada has been a key battleground state during the 2022 midterm elections with both parties competing for Latino votes. Democrats have historically depended on the votes of Latinos in Nevada in closely fought elections but this year, the party is worried, given the charged political climate. A poll from the New York Times shows most Latinos will still vote for Democrats — but the margin is shrinking.
Lombardo made education, economy and crime the three-pronged focus of his campaign and increasingly emphasized education, amping up attacks on Sisolak about the increase in public school violence, pandemic school closures and the pervasiveness of what he calls “social-reform curriculum.”
Meanwhile, though Lombardo tried to point to Sisolak’s policies as the reason for rising crime in Las Vegas, the incumbent governor turned the discussion on its head during a debate. He blamed the Republican sheriff for the spike, accused him of not hiring more officers despite $100 million in funding and said he believed there was corruption in Lombardo’s department.
Former President Donald Trump endorsed Lombardo in early April, saying the sheriff would support law enforcement, protect the Second Amendment, oppose so-called “sanctuary cities,” and veto the “liberal tax increase,” among other things. However, during a debate with Sisolak, Lombardo sought to distance himself from the former president, saying he did not support Trump’s false claims that the last presidential election was “rigged.”
Meanwhile, in a campaign ad for Sisolak, former President Barack Obama called on voters to support the incumbent governor, saying he has expanded childcare, raised teacher pay and provided free school lunches for all children, among others.
Sisolak and Lombardo have run neck and neck for months. Polls in the last weeks before the election showed the candidates remained in a dead heat, with less than a percentage point between them.
Nevada is one of 36 states electing their top executive officials during the 2022 midterm elections. Before the election, there were 28 Republican governors and 22 Democratic governors.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.