Nevada’s Democratic gubernatorial primary has taken a sharp turn toward the negative, with Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak’s campaign releasing its first critical TV ad against his colleague, Chris Giunchigliani.
The campaign-backed spot that was seen over the weekend in Las Vegas but doesn’t appear on Sisolak’s campaign YouTube page declares Giunchigliani, who was a longtime state lawmaker before winning a commission seat, a “career politician” who “isn’t progressive” and is “what’s wrong with politics.”
It criticizes her for voting to increase her pay as a lawmaker in 2001, 2003 and 2005, says she “voted to let lobbyists give secret gifts to legislators” in 1999 and put family members on the political payroll.
The 2005 bill that was cited, AB462, required future pay increases for constitutional officers and lawmakers to be tied to increases in state employee salaries. It passed 30-12 in the Assembly and was signed by Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn.
The 2003 resolution proposed a constitutional amendment calling for annual legislative sessions, which would translate into higher pay as a result of lawmakers spending more time at work. It passed 23-14 in the Assembly but didn’t make it out of a Senate committee.
The 1999 bill was a measure specifying that lobbyists submitting financial disclosure reports don’t have to itemize, legislator by legislator, expenditures they’ve made for social events to which all lawmakers were invited. It passed 38-2 out of the Assembly and was signed by Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn.
Giunchigliani has previously responded to criticisms that her late husband, Gary Gray, was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars from her various campaigns over the years. Gray was a well-known Democratic consultant and her campaign manager, and she has said that large expenditures made to him were general payments that were divided among him and subcontractors.
Sisolak’s ad comes shortly after the Nevada State Education Association announced a $1 million campaign to support Giunchigliani against the better-funded Sisolak. Those ads have argued that Giunchigliani is the “real progressive” in the race and have panned Sisolak for, among other things, getting an A- rating from the National Rifle Association and blocking a plan to send Clark County hotel tax revenue to support education for the whole state.
Giunchigliani also submitted an op-ed piece to the Reno Gazette-Journal on Sunday accusing Sisolak of “shameful” attacks and saying he “is grasping at straws because he can’t defend his record.” On Monday, fellow Clark County Commissioner Susan Brager sided with Sisolak in a public letter defending him against criticism for a vote he made supporting development at Red Rock.
A Nevada Independent poll from mid-April shows Sisolak, who has been running commercials for weeks, is well ahead of Giunchigliani in the race.
Disclosure: NSEA, Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani have donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.