know about Abortion access may play key role in Sisolak and Lombardo’s gubernatorial race – The Nevada Independent
Against a checkerboard backdrop of signs reading “Defend the Election” and “Women for Sisolak,” Nevada’s Democratic incumbent governor spoke Friday before a crowd of several dozen to declare that this is “certainly the election.” most important thing in my life.”
Why? Because following the US Supreme Court. overturning Roe vs. Wade this summer, “governors are the last line of defense for abortion access.”
“If we get Joe Lombardo, we’ll go back,” an animated Sisolak said during a rally inside the Evelyn Mount Community Center in Reno. “That’s what we get. We are not going to be able to take any more steps forward.”
For Sisolak and other state Democrats, facing headwinds at midterm from President Joe Biden’s unpopularity and rising inflation, the issue of abortion access has opened up an unexpected political opportunity.
A survey from August The Nevada Independent and OH Predictive Insights found that nearly 17 percent of voters named abortion as the issue that most motivated them to vote, trailing only the economy (40 percent). Most recent surveys of Reno Gazette-Journal and the University of Suffolk found a clear majority of Nevadans saying a candidate’s position on abortion would affect their vote in November.
Abortion in the Silver State up to 24 weeks of pregnancy has been protected by state law for more than 30 years and can only be overturned by a direct majority vote of the people. So while abortion access in Nevada was not affected by the court’s ruling, Sisolak and affiliated Democratic groups have continuously criticized Lombardo on abortion in recent weeks, taking advantage of the GOP candidate’s often unclear responses to the media and moderators of the debate.
Sisolak, who signed bills decriminalizing abortion and expanding access to family planning during his first term, moved quickly after dobbs to issue an executive order protecting access for those seeking an abortion out of state, including preventing state agencies from helping other states collect information or assisting with the prosecution of someone who traveled to Nevada for an abortion or other reproductive health services.
Speaking to reporters in Reno last week, Sisolak said he would seek to codify that executive order into state law if re-elected, further contrasting with Lombardo, who told a Reno television station that “I would.”absolutely” seek to repeal the executive order, only to later back down via a statement emailed to Associated Press saying “I would have to assess it, and look at it from the perspective of being a pro-life governor.”
Lombardo’s campaign did not respond to a nevada independent abortion questionnaire sent to the major candidates in late May, but has generally avoided explicit criticism or political agendas related to abortion, in contrast to other major Republican candidates, such as Senate hopeful Adam Laxalt, who called Roe a joke.” In response to the leak of the draft Supreme Court ruling, Lombardo said in an email, “Abortion policy is already addressed in Nevada law. The governor and the legislature cannot make changes to it.”
But Lombardo’s sometimes murky responses have been highlighted by a Democratic-affiliated outside political action committee, New Day Nevada, which in recent weeks has launched facebook ad campaigns noting Lombardo promising to consider “further restrictions on our reproductive rights, including the removal of birth control.” (A Lombardo spokesman told the snowfall stream in July that it “has no plans to restrict or limit access to Plan B or any type of contraception in the state of Nevada”).
Riley Sutton, who serves as executive director of the New Day Nevada PAC, said voters have picked up on Lombardo’s ambiguity in answering questions about abortion or reproductive care. She described Lombardo’s promise to view issues through a “pro-life lens” as code language for pushing anti-abortion policies later.
“People have caught on to the fact that that means they are against abortion, against women’s rights, and they will legislate that way and push those issues,” she said.
Sutton said New Day Nevada’s advertising spending is part of “a multimillion-dollar effort to ensure that anti-choice politicians don’t get elected in Nevada,” calling the $600,000 raised by the PAC by the deadline of July 15 reporting as a “down payment.” nowhere near the full scope of what our activities will be.” Nationwide, Planned Parenthood Votes has named Nevada as one of its target states for a planned investment of $50 million mid-term spending campaign.
Republicans, however, do not believe that abortion will prove to be the deciding issue in the gubernatorial race. They noted that few GOP candidates in the state are explicitly calling for draconian restrictions on abortion, but the issue is heartening among grassroots voters, and that economic and inflation concerns may weigh more heavily on voters’ minds as Election day approaches.
“If we get to October, and Republicans are talking about ways to fix the state, tackling education and crime, and Democrats are talking about abortion, we’re going to blow them out of the water,” said Republican political strategist Jeremy Hughes, who helps to run the (well-funded) pro-Lombardo Better Nevada PAC.
Sutton said New Day Nevada’s publicity efforts were initially planned to focus on economic issues, but argued that the repeal of Roe had fundamentally changed the dynamic of the midterm elections.
“Don’t go all James Carville or anything here, but it was the economy,” he said of the PAC’s messaging strategy beforedobbs. “It was the economy until half the population now has subhuman rights, and I think that changes things in a way that even Mr. Carville would recognize.”
For Kimberly Claussen, a 21-year-old UNR student who attended Sisolak’s rally on Friday, Lombardo’s comments about possibly repealing the governor’s executive order on abortion only served to solidify her election in November.
“If it wasn’t already solid, it would have gotten to that point,” he said. “Because that is an extremely scary thing. It is a step backwards. And as a young woman in this state, I just can’t vote that way.”
Editor’s Note: This story appears in Indy 2022, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the 2022 election. Sign up for the newsletter here.