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IndyTalks: Lombardo vows ‘to use everything available’ to retain veto power

Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller
Election 2024State Government

Gov. Joe Lombardo said he is “very worried” about the potential for a Democratic supermajority in both houses of the Legislature, which could give Democrats the ability to override any of his vetoes in next year’s session.

During the 2023 legislative session, Lombardo issued a record-setting 75 vetoes. In a candid conversation hosted by The Nevada Independent last week in Reno, he characterized this record as “unfortunate” and resulting from “communication and partisanship” issues with Democratic legislative leaders.

Lombardo said he viewed the eventually vetoed bills as a test, saying Democrats were “seeing what I was willing to withstand.” He declined to say whether he spoke with Senate and Assembly leaders about bills he’d called “unacceptable” before vetoing them, but clarified that he didn’t believe Democratic leaders were acting in bad faith.

“I think that was more of a testament to a change of party and leadership. And maybe it was a little bit of feeling me out,” Lombardo said. “But I don’t think it was bad faith. I think everything was well-intended.” 

He said statehouse control did not preoccupy him as a gubernatorial candidate in 2022, but said after the last legislative session, maintaining his relevance and determining the outcome of legislation during the 2025 legislative session is one of his top campaign priorities. 

He said that California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, told him last year that “single-party rule does not work” because there is no consensus building or discussion. Lombardo emphasized that voters should prevent one-party dominance.

“The Democrats are trying to achieve a supermajority because they believe that’s to the benefit of the state, which I absolutely disagree with,” Lombardo said. “I have vetted candidates, I have identified candidates, I have recruited candidates, I am raising money for candidates to help with their success, to ensure that we prevent [a veto-proof supermajority].”

Lombardo said he would “use everything available to ensure success,” including dark money, or money whose source is not disclosed. He has actively recruited and endorsed legislative candidates boosted by a fundraising apparatus and even persuaded an Assembly Republican running for Congress to drop her bid and run for re-election to a swing Las Vegas district.

Lombardo isn’t the only one highlighting the election’s stakes for legislative control. In a speech last Monday on the first day of candidate filing, Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas) said Nevada voters are facing a clear choice this election cycle between Democrats “who are actually trying to solve problems and make life better for Nevadans, or Republicans, who offer nothing but complaints with no real solutions to any of the challenges facing Nevadans.” 

Democrats, Yeager said, are focusing on addressing the housing crisis and providing free breakfast and lunch at schools — issues that Democrats passed bills to address in 2023 that Lombardo subsequently vetoed.

As PACs connected to Lombardo have characterized Democrats as participating in a “culture of corruption,” Lombardo said last week that he believes there is a culture of corruption in the Legislature because it is not subject to open meeting law and has little accountability. 

In recent months, Democrats have highlighted the Republican Party’s connection to false cries of stolen elections and support for former President Donald Trump despite his numerous scandals and court trials.

Lombardo, who endorsed Trump ahead of the Republican primary, said that Trump and the Nevada fake electors are innocent until proven guilty.

Democrats have also highlighted the Nevada Ethics Commission’s decision to censure and fine the governor $20,000 for using his sheriff’s badge and uniform on the campaign trail.

Lombardo called the state ethics commission’s decision “stupid.” He said there’s no specific law addressing the issue, and the decision was based on a conflicting set of legal opinions.

“I’m running for governor and I’m wearing my uniform associated with the profession I chose and provided as part of my campaign because I’m very proud of it,” Lombardo said. 

To read more about Lombardo’s interview, click here.

Editor’s note: This story appears in Indy Elections, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the 2024 elections. Sign up for the newsletter here.


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