Popular Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo has announced that he is running for Governor of Nevada in 2022 as a Republican. Two candidates so far have announced that they will enter the Republican primary, Lombardo and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee. The winner of the GOP primary will face the incumbent Governor Steve Sisolak, a Democrat who has already announced that he intends to run for reelection in 2022.
Las Vegas sheriff runs for governor
Steve Sisolak won a closely contested election in 2018 to become the first Democrat to govern Nevada in nearly two decades. Sisolak was endorsed by Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
Now Sheriff Lombardo hopes to take the state back for Nevada Republicans. Lombardo had been considered a likely candidate before his formal announcement.
Lombardo spent 26 years with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and rose through the ranks over that time to become an assistant sheriff before his 2014 election as sheriff.
In 2018 Lombardo won an easy reelection victory, winning 73% of the vote in Clark County and defeating several challengers.
In 2017 Lombardo presided over the response to the Las Vegas mass shooting which killed 57 people and brought a great deal of scrutiny for Lombardo and his department.
The motive and many details of the shooting remain unknown and controversial, but Lombardo emerged with his popularity intact and held on to his position as Sheriff.
A clash over policing in Nevada
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department which is overseen by Lombardo is by far the largest department in Nevada.
Governor Sisolak comes from a business background and has held several elected offices. He has recently signed police reform legislation which he claims are meant to address the concerns of Black Lives Matter activists.
If Lombardo wins the Republican nomination the issue of policing will presumably be a major focus of the 2022 gubernatorial race.
Lombardo has previously advocated for more policing in Las Vegas and has associated the expansion of his department with decreases in crime in the city.
The race will likely be a microcosm of larger debates throughout the country over the future of police departments in urban areas. Lombardo has a record which would strongly oppose the cause of police defunding.
More Republican candidates are expected to announce their plans to run for governor in the coming months. For now, Lombardo remains a leading candidate.