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Clark County Commissioners Chris Giunchigliani, left, and Steve Sisolak listen while personal injury attorney Robert Englet with the law firm Eglet Prince addresses the County Commission during a hearing pursuing lawsuits against major opioid manufacturers and distributors on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

A PAC affiliated with the Nevada state teachers union is kicking off a seven-figure campaign with an ad touting Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani as the “real progressive” in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

The commercial from Strong Public Schools Nevada, set to air on TV in Las Vegas and Reno starting Wednesday, criticizes her primary opponent and fellow Commissioner Steve Sisolak for saying he’s the most conservative Democrat people have ever seen.

“Gun violence. Attacks on women’s health. Education cuts and overdevelopment. We need progressive solutions,” the voiceover said.

It goes on to criticize Sisolak for receiving an A- rating from the National Rifle Association, voting for construction near Red Rock National Monument and rejecting a hotel tax hike that would have brought new funding for schools.

The ad then praises Giunchigliani’s experience as a special education teacher and promises she will fight for school funding, gun background checks and protection for public lands.

“We know Chris Giunchigliani will deliver for our classrooms,” Brian Wallace, vice president of the PAC and an 8th grade teacher in Carson City, said in a statement announcing the ad. “She supported increasing the business tax for schools and forcefully pointed out that the increase in room tax to build the stadium would be better spent improving public education.”

The group acknowledges polling from earlier this month shows Sisolak’s early ad buys put him in the lead, but says that his commercials are “made possible because of backing from special interests and real estate developers.” Sisolak has a commanding fundraising lead.

Pollster Amy Levin of Benenson Strategy Group made the case that Giunchigliani’s fortunes can turn. While Sisolak has been running ads for weeks, Giunchigliani’s campaign started her first commercial this week.

“Sisolak’s advantage is remarkably soft and will be short-lived once voters start hearing from and about Chris G,” Levin said in a statement, adding that respondents who see Sisolak’s first two ads and then Giunchigliani’s give her a five-point lead in the race. “Such fluidity in support suggests Sisolak has not been able to consolidate his voters and offers a clear path to victory for Chris G.”

The primary marks yet another division in a feud between the state teachers union and its largest local affiliate, the Clark County Education Association. The CCEA endorsed Sisolak, while the NSEA — a group Giunchigliani used to lead — has endorsed her.

NSEA announced a digital ad campaign supporting Giunchigliani last week.

Disclosure: Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani have donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.
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