Election 2024

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Indy Elections: Question 3 and swarms of bees

Plus: New polls and a bevy of campaign ads
Eric Neugeboren
Eric Neugeboren
Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller
Gabby Birenbaum
Gabby Birenbaum
Indy Elections

Indy Elections is The Nevada Independent’s newsletter devoted to comprehensive and accessible coverage of the 2024 elections, from the race for the White House to the bid to take control of the Legislature.

In today’s edition: We explore what’s going on with the campaign to establish ranked-choice voting and open primaries in Nevada, analyze a new Emerson poll where President Joe Biden reached his best Nevada performance since November and share how lawyers with the attorney general’s office said a recent motion from lawyers of Nevada’s so-called “fake electors” had no legal merit and “inaccurate” information.

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We want to hear from you! Send us your questions, comments, observations, jokes or what you think we should be covering or paying attention to. Email your newsletter editor Tabitha Mueller at [email protected].

Days until: 

  • Primary ballots are prepared and mailed out: 15
  • Regular primary Election Day: 35
  • Election Day: 182

Drained funds and a new PAC? What we know about the ranked-choice, open primary campaign:

By Tabitha Mueller and Eric Neugeboren

Flush with cash from wealthy outside donors, Nevada Voters First conducted an expansive media campaign in 2022 on behalf of Question 3, a ballot measure that would fundamentally change Nevada’s election system to have all voters participate in primaries and ranked-choice voting in general elections.

But as Question 3 returns to voters this year for the final time, it has reported only one significant contribution while spending nearly $900,000 this cycle — more than four times what it has raised. The PAC’s Facebook and X accounts have not made any new posts since 2022.

As the PAC’s bank account drained, organizers quietly registered a new PAC, Vote Yes on 3, Inc., on March 15. That new organization has prebooked $9.4 million worth of TV ads ahead of the 2024 election.

Meanwhile, the Democrat-linked PAC opposing the ballot initiative has not raised any money this election cycle, but it has spent significantly less than Nevada Voters First. 

For more information about what’s happening with the campaign,read our full story here.

What we’re reading and writing

Biden campaign alleges RNC using Nevada lawsuits to sow early doubt in election by Gabby Birenbaum

“This lawsuit is little more than political theater.”

Most Nevada GOP candidates mum on election integrity after ‘Big Lie’ was prominent in 2022 by Eric Neugeboren

The shift reflects the diminished role that election integrity plays in this year’s Nevada races.

The four most interesting Democratic state Senate primaries in Nevada by Tabitha Mueller and Eric Neugeboren

Nevada’s primaries are always fascinating.

Lombardo endorses Marty O'Donnell in Nevada's 3rd District Republican primary by Gabby Birenbaum

Second endorsement’s the charm.

Indy Poll Watch

Emerson College (April 25-29) 

  • 1,000 registered voters
  • Margin of error: 3 percent

An Emerson College poll of swing states released last week found President Joe Biden down 1 percentage point in a head-to-head match against former President Donald Trump, but the gap widened to 5 points when third-party candidates were included.

The 1-point deficit is Biden’s best Nevada performance in an Emerson poll since November.

The poll also found Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo with a 40 percent approval rating, with around 31 percent of voters disapproving of his first term. That’s a 5 percentage-point increase in Lombardo’s approval from Emerson’s March poll.

Latino Community Foundation (April 21-28) 

  • 400 Nevadans
  • Margin of error: 4.9 percent

A poll last month of Latinos in Nevada found Biden and Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) with leads in potential matchups against Trump and Republican Senate candidate Sam Brown.

The poll from the Latino Community Foundation found 50 percent of Nevada respondents supporting Biden compared with 35 percent supporting Trump. That’s the same level of Latino support that Trump received in 2020, according to exit polls, but Biden’s support level fell 11 percentage points.

The survey also found Rosen up 23 percentage points in a hypothetical matchup against Brown. Exit polls from 2022 show Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) held a nearly 30 point advantage against former Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt among Latino voters. Cortez Masto ultimately won the race by fewer than 8,000 votes.

— Eric Neugeboren

Indy Ad Watch

Joe Biden - “Tough”/”Fuerte

The latest ad from President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign focuses on reproductive freedom.

The ad, which airs in English and Spanish across battleground states and in the Las Vegas and Reno markets, features a Las Vegas carpenter and Marine worried about his three daughters' future rights. The ad was released on the two-year anniversary of a leak of a draft opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and includes a clip of former President Donald Trump appearing to take credit for the overturning.

Marty O’Donnell - “Race to the Bottom”

Republican Marty O’Donnell, a video game composer running for Nevada’s swingy 3rd Congressional District seat held by Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV), released his first ad last week — a 30-second spot focused on immigration.

O’Donnell, who was recently endorsed by Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo, says in the ad that the entrance of 20 million undocumented immigrants since 2000 is affecting American workers because corporations are hiring “those illegals” at lower wages.

Sam Brown — “Under Siege

Sam Brown, the front-runner in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, also released an immigration ad last week.

The 30-second video, airing in Las Vegas and Reno, is emblazoned with big red print with the the phrases “Rampant Crime,” “Human Trafficking” and “Deadly Drugs” overlaying images of the southern border. Brown then says that he will help finish Trump’s border wall — as he seeks to curry favor with the former president, whom he originally did not endorse in the presidential primary — and “stop the invasion at the border.”

John Lee — “Let’s Get to Work”

Former North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, who is running for Congressional District 4 in a bid to unseat Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), released an ad campaign Monday highlighting his plumbing business and success as mayor in “rescu[ing] the city from bankruptcy without raising taxes.” He was a Democratic mayor before switching parties in 2021.

The 30-second ad also highlights his support of Trump securing the border.

Shelly Cruz-Crawford — “Stand Up”

In her first campaign ad, higher education regent and school principal Michelee “Shelly” Cruz-Crawford focuses on the need to stand up to “extremists like [former President Donald] Trump” attempting to take away the right to reproductive health care, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and abortion. The ad is running on digital platforms throughout the primary election and is in addition to a direct mail campaign.

Cruz-Crawford is endorsed by the Senate Democratic Caucus and is running against Assemblywoman Clara Thomas (D-North Las Vegas) for the overwhelmingly Democratic Senate District 1, a seat held by termed-out Sen. Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas).

— Eric Neugeboren and Tabitha Mueller

The Lightning Round

🧑‍⚖️ State pushes back at recent “fake electors” motion —  In a filing last week, lawyers with the attorney general’s office said a recent motion from lawyers of Nevada’s so-called “fake electors” had no legal merit and had “inaccurate” information about the state’s discovery processes. Last month, lawyers for three of the fake electors accused state officials of withholding exculpatory evidence from the grand jury that indicted them over their role in falsely pledging the state’s six electoral votes to Donald Trump in the 2020 election. 

✅ Elko mayor endorses Tony Grady for U.S. Senate — Elko Mayor Reece Keeney endored Air Force veteran Tony Grady to be the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate. He called Grady, who finished second in the 2022 GOP primary for lieutenant governor, “the most qualified candidate in this race.” He faces an uphill battle against establishment-backed candidate Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter, the former U.S. ambassador to Iceland.

🧱Private citizen Gunter launches deportation initiative — Gunter may not be an elected official, or have deportation authority reserved for the federal government, but he’s launching a “Build The Wall, Deport Them All” initiative anyway, including action items he plans to fund immediately.

Gunter told Fox News that he would seed the plan with $1 million. He plans to host meetings with business owners about the impact of “illegal immigration,” send the resulting data to the Department of Homeland Security and set up a tip line for citizens to report “suspicious activity” on the topic. 

Eric Neugeboren and Gabby Birenbaum

And to ease you into the week, a few “posts” to “X” that caught our eye: 

We’ll see you next week. 

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