Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo led the field of candidates vying for the Republican nomination for Nevada governor in a fresh poll, topping both former Sen. Dean Heller and Michele Fiore, who has positioned herself as an acolyte of former President Donald Trump.
In the Jan. 16-29 survey from OH Predictive Insights, conducted for the Nevada Independent, Lombardo received 28% of registered Republican voters, with 9% backing Heller, 8% choosing Fiore, and 5% preferring North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee.
Thirty-six percent of Republican voters said they were undecided, suggesting the contest remains in flux and that the trailing candidates have opportunities to improve their standing ahead of Nevada’s June 14 primaries.
“Sheriffs typically perform a little bit better in primary races,” said Mike Noble, chief of research for OH Predictive Insights. “They typically perform and get a bit of an advantage over others running, especially politicians or career politicians.”
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The poll also found that 25% of Republican voters believe Lombardo is the “most conservative,” while 13% said the same about both Heller and Fiore. But 35% said they were not sure who is the most conservative in the GOP primary field, suggesting, again, that the Clark County sheriff does not have the nomination locked up.
Heller, who has butted heads with Trump in the past, said recently that he believes President Joe Biden is an “illegitimate” commander in chief. The statement was interpreted as an attempt by the former senator to ingratiate himself with grassroots Republicans who believe Trump’s unsupported claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
In the book In Trump’s Shadow: The Battle for 2024 and the Future of the GOP, Trump is quoted describing Heller as “very negative to me,” adding, regarding the former senator’s unsuccessful 2018 reelection campaign: “At the end, he came and kissed my ass, and I’d go out and do rallies for him. They’d have signs: ‘Sir, he’s not for you. He’s not for you.’”
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, is running for reelection in November.
In the poll, which had a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points, his favorable rating was 50% favorable, 39% unfavorable. Perhaps crucially, 52% of voters in the poll said they had a favorable view of Sisolak’s coronavirus policies, with 36% unfavorable.
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In a matchup with Republican challengers, Lombardo performed the best against the governor, trailing 52.2% to 47.8%. Heller lagged Sisolak, 45.6% to 54.4%.