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

The endorsement represents the governor’s second time weighing in on Nevada’s most competitive House race.
Gabby Birenbaum
Gabby Birenbaum
CongressElection 2024Elections

Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) has put his thumb on the scale in Congressional District 3 once again, endorsing video game music composer Marty O’Donnell in the Republican primary to take on Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV).

O’Donnell is a political newcomer who has never previously run for office. He launched his first ad of the cycle Wednesday, focusing on border security and casting immigration as harmful to “American workers.”

U.S. House candidate Marty O'Donnell. (Courtesy of Marty for Congress)

Congressional District 3 is routinely the closest House race in Nevada and a target for in-state and national Republicans alike. O’Donnell comes with the benefit of being a self-funder and is working with consultants who ran the governor’s successful 2022 campaign.

This is not Lombardo’s first endorsement in either this race or across federal elections — a sign of his increasing efforts to build out his own political apparatus, separate from the state party, to rival Democrats’ historically well-organized machine. He previously endorsed Assemblywoman Heidi Kasama (R-Las Vegas) for the House seat, but she ended up dropping out of the race after consulting with the governor and is running again for her competitive Assembly seat. 

Her victory there could help protect Lombardo’s veto power, with a Democratic statehouse supermajority a possibility in 2024.

O’Donnell faces a crowded primary of other self-funded candidates, including former state Treasurer Dan Schwartz. Schwartz has already loaned his campaign $800,000 to O’Donnell’s $500,000, giving the former treasurer more cash on hand at the end of the first quarter. 

Other candidates include tax analyst Drew Johnson and former state Sen. Elizabeth Helgelien. 

Despite the attention and resources from Republicans, Lee has won three straight elections, including a victory by 4 percentage points in 2022. Her fundraising dwarfs her potential competitors; she has a war chest of over $2.1 million.

This story was updated at 12:15 p.m. on 5/2/24 to correct that Lee's 2022 race was not her closest election.


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