Election 2018
Lombardo, Wolfson, Segerblom advance past primary challengers as incumbents in local government races roll to victory
By
Riley Snyder
Megan Messerly
Daniel Rothberg
Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, left, graduates new officers during Metro Police's graduation exercises on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. The class graduated 38 officers. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Incumbents in major races including Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo and District Attorney Steve Wolfson were able to fend off challenges on primary election night.

Here’s a look at the results of some of the major primary races that were decided on Tuesday:

Clark County District Attorney

Incumbent District Attorney Steve Wolfson survived a primary scare and defeated longtime criminal defense attorney Rob Langford in the Democratic primary for Clark County District Attorney, winning on a 56 to 44 percent split despite the significant spending by major out-of-state donors including Hungarian billionaire George Soros.

Wolfson, who was appointed to the position in 2012 and won easily won reelection in 2014 with more than 72 percent of the vote, faced his toughest challenge yet from Langford, who jumped in the race on the last day of candidate filing and after the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Wolfson declined to prosecute a top aide accused of stealing more than $40,000 from his 2014 campaign.

Because no other candidates filed to run in the race, Wolfson has automatically won another four-year term.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Langford conceded defeat.

“It appears that my campaign has fallen short of the desired goal,” he wrote on Twitter. “I think, however, that we did bring to the forefront issues heavy on the minds of many people. Criminal justice reform will still come to Clark County. Congratulations Mr. Wolfson.”

He substantially outraised Langford, raising more than $884,000 since the start of 2017, but was forced to spend more than $858,000 to defend the seat amid an onslaught of outside spending, including $1.2 million from a group affiliated with Soros and another $300,000 from an outside group funded by a nonprofit based in San Francisco, which reported spending more than $467,000 ahead of the primary election.

Clark County Commission

State Senator Tick Segerblom narrowly survived a challenge by well-funded union organizer Marco Hernandez in the Democratic primary for the Clark County Commission seat being vacated by Chris Giunchigliani, who is termed out of office. Segerblom received 51 percent of the vote, compared to 49 percent for Hernandez, winning by just 181 votes out of nearly 12,000 votes cast.

Hernandez, an organizer with Laborers Local 872, was unable to surpass Segerblom despite staying competitive in fundraising and receiving help from an outside PAC funded by the union and the Las Vegas Sands, a major Republican donor.

Segerblom is expected to easily surpass Republican Trish Marsh, who won a primary against Randy Rosen on Tuesday, as the district has a major Democratic advantage in voter registration.

But the most competitive Clark County Commission race on the 2018 ballot will likely be between Democrat Justin Jones and Republican Tisha Black, both of whom easily emerged from primary challenges on Tuesday.

Jones, a former state senator, easily defeated primary challenger Jason Hunt  66 to 34 percent. He reported raising more than $332,000 since the start of 2017, while spending just over $175,000.

Black, a prominent local attorney, reported raising more than $531,00 since the start of 2017 and has spent about $280,000 over the last two years. She easily defeated a primary challenge from Mitchell Tracy with 56 percent to 44 percent of the vote.

Incumbent County Commissioner Jim Gibson, who was appointed to the commission last June, didn’t face a primary challenge on Tuesday. Republican Cindy Lake will face off against Gibson in November, winning with 72 percent of the vote compared to 28 percent for Fred Van Dover.

Gibson has reported raising a huge $723,000 since the start of 2017, spending nearly $312,000 over the time period.

Clark County Sheriff

Incumbent Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who became a household name in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, will lead the region’s largest police force for a second term.

Lombardo snagged 73 percent of the votes — more than the 50 percent threshold needed to prevent the race from heading to the general election.

He defeated challengers including former North Las Vegas Lieutenant Tim Bedwell, who received 16 percent of the vote, as well as Matt Caldwell, Gregory Heiny and Gordon Martines.

Under state law, nonpartisan municipal races including the sheriff’s race can be decided in a primary if one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters would advance to the general election.

Clark County School Board of Trustees

Embattled trustee Kevin Child survived a primary race that pitted him against three challengers — Irene Cepeda, Leobardo Martinez, Jr., and Eli Thompson — for the school board seat representing District D. Child secured 24 percent of the votes and will face Cepeda, who received 47 percent of the vote, in the general election.

Child has had a rocky first term on the school board. Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky, who’s retiring at the end of this month, banned Child from visiting schools last year after ongoing complaints about his behavior. He also was accused of workplace harassment by the deputy superintendent, Kim Wooden.

The ongoing drama, however, didn’t deter Child from being an outspoken member of the seven-member board, particularly about finances. The school district endured a $60 million deficit last year, followed by another $68 million shortfall last month. Both resulted in cuts.

Cepeda emerged with a large fundraising advantage in the down-ballot primary race. She raised $17,659 this year, while Child only gathered $500 worth of contributions.

In District F, Danielle Ford and Kali Fox Miller will vie for that school board seat in the general election. Ford scooped up 16 percent of the votes, followed by Miller with 14 percent.

They gathered the most votes in a crowded field that included nine candidates on the ballot. One of the candidates — former Assemblyman David Gardner — bowed out of the race in May because he accepted a job in the District Attorney’s Office, but his name still appeared on the ballot.

The District G school board race did not appear on the primary ballot because it only contains two candidates — incumbent Linda Cavazos and her challenger, Ryan Scalia.

Nevada Supreme Court

Three seats on the Nevada Supreme Court are up this year, but only one of them appeared on Tuesday’s primary ballot.

Clark County District Court Judge Elissa Cadish and Appeals Court Judge Jerry Tao nabbed the two top spots in the race to replace retiring Justice Michael Cherry, meaning that they will both advance to the general election. Cadish secured 36 percent of the primary vote while Tao took in 21 percent.

Leon Aberasturi secured the third highest number of votes, with 12 percent of votes, with John Rutledge at 11 percent and Alan Lefebvre at 7 percent.

Tao has been touting his candidacy as an opportunity to tilt the court toward the right, while Cadish is a Democrat who was formerly recommended by former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court.

Washoe County Commission

Three seats were up on the Washoe County Commission in a partisan primary. In County Commission District 2, the Democratic candidate — Steve Wolgast — ran unopposed. The action was in the Republican primary where the incumbent, Bob Lucey, faced two challengers. Lucey captured 57 percent of the vote and will advance to the general.

In District 3, Commissioner Kitty Jung, the incumbent, captured 76 percent of the vote, easily beating her opponent Austin Grush, a 19-year-old student at the University of Nevada, Reno.

District 5 was the tightest County Commission race was the Democratic primary between Lindsy Judd and Greg Smith, the husband of the late state Sen. Debbie Smith. At the end of the night, Judd beat Smith by about nine points. She won 54 percent of the vote.

Washoe County Sheriff

Out of a field of seven, Darin Balaam emerged as the clear frontrunner in the crowded Washoe County Sheriff’s race. Balaam worked in the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and told the Reno-Gazette Journal last month he wanted to improve mental health services at the Washoe County Detention Facility, tackle domestic violence and protect senior from abuse.

Because the sheriff’s race is nonpartisan, any candidate who receives more than 50 percent of the primary would win the election to the office. Balaam nearly came close to surpassing that bar with about 47 percent of the vote. But because his campaign couldn’t quite edge past 50 percent, he will face the runner-up from the primary in a two-way race in November.

Heidi Howe, a retired captain in the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, came in second with 25 percent of the vote.

Reno Mayor/City Council

Reno’s mayoral race, like the Washoe County sheriff’s race, is nonpartisan. But unlike the sheriff’s race, the top two candidates in the primary are required to face off again in the general election, per the city charter, regardless of whether one candidate has a decisive primary win.

On Tuesday night, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve swept away the other candidates, securing about 63 percent of the vote in an eight-way primary race. In the general, Schieve will face Republican Eddie Lorton, who captured 18 percent of the vote.

In addition to mayor, two Reno City Council incumbents faced re-elections.

Councilwoman Naomi Duerr, who represents Ward 2, secured more than 50 percent of the vote with the final tallies showing her at 57 percent. She will face Joe Lawrence in the general.

The other incumbent, Councilman Paul McKenzie, did not fare as well. He was challenged by Bonnie Weber, a former chairwoman of the Washoe County Commission, who received 53 percent of the vote Tuesday night. McKenzie will have another chance though. He will advance to the general with 42 percent of the vote and face Weber again on the ballot in November.

Sparks Mayor/City Council

Of the four candidates running for Mayor of Sparks, Ron Smith, who currently sits on the City Council, got 61 percent of the vote on Tuesday night. Smith will become the new Sparks mayor because he received more than 50 percent of the vote in the nonpartisan race.

His colleague, Councilwoman Charlene Bybee was also up for re-election. She fended off her primary challengers, getting 71 percent of the vote and securing a second term.

Updated at 6-13-18 at 9:34 a.m. to include final vote totals from the Secretary of State’s website.

INDY FAST FACTS Chris Giunchigliani Job: Clark County Commissioner Party: Democrat In current office: 2007-present Birthdate: November 27, 1954 Education: Avila College (B.A.) University of Nevada, Las Vegas (M.A.) Other public offices held: State Assemblywoman, District 9 (1991-2006) Total donations: $2,895,818 (5/08/13-6/7/18) Top donors: Giunchigliani (Chris, Jeanne, JM, Larry, Myrna, Ellen): $65,000 MGM Resorts International $43,165 Caesars Entertainment $35,000 Buck and Aurora Wong $30,000 South Point Hotel & Casino/F&M Advertising $30,000
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