Candidate Q&A: Steve Sisolak on His Re-election Bid for Governor of Nevada

Light blue background with blue-toned image of Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a sign that reads "Welcome to Fabulous Voter-Friendly Nevada," an image of someone putting ballots into a drop box, a blue-toned image of the Nevada state capitol and two Las Vegas Aces players playing basketball.

Serving as Nevada’s 30th governor since 2019, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) is running for a second term as the Silver State’s top executive. Before winning the governorship, Sisolak chaired the Clark County Commission and, before that, served on the Nevada Board of Regents for 10 years. 

In his re-election bid, Sisolak faces Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who runs the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Endorsed by former President Donald Trump, Lombardo has cited voter fraud “on both sides” when asked about accepting 2020 election results and wants to create an “election integrity commission.” 

In Democracy Docket’s latest candidate Q&A for the 2022 cycle, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak lays out how he will continue using his position as governor to protect the right to vote, explains why Nevada Republicans keep trying to impose strict ID requirements to vote and goes with a Killers song for his walk up. 

Responses have been edited for style and clarity.

If re-elected in November, you’ll be serving a second term as governor. How will you use your office to protect the right to vote in Nevada?

I believe every eligible Nevada voter should be able to make their voice heard at the ballot box. That’s why I expanded voting access in my first term by making vote by mail permanent,  expanding automatic and same-day voter registration and restoring voting rights for over 77,000 Nevadans. I’m committing to building on this progress in a second term to continue ensuring Nevada elections are free, fair and accessible.

Your Trump-backed opponent, Joe Lombardo, has flip flopped on accepting the results of the 2020 presidential election, citing fraud on “both sides,” and has vowed to establish an “election integrity commission” as governor. What do you make of Lombardo’s backtracking and proposed commission?

Joe has made one thing clear: He will do or say whatever it takes to win. That’s why he’s playing politics with Nevada elections and taking both sides on the dangerous “Big Lie” by acknowledging Biden is the duly elected president while simultaneously peddling dangerous election conspiracies. Voting is a right and the core of our democracy; no governor should roll back those efforts and make it harder for Nevadans to cast their ballots just to score political points.

After losing in the Republican primary in June, “Big Lie” gubernatorial candidate Joey Gilbert challenged the election results in court, ultimately losing there, too. What are your thoughts on these types of lawsuits and do you expect to see more after November?

I’m proud that under my administration, Nevada elections are among the most secure in the nation, but baseless lawsuits and conspiracy theories undermine our progress and cast doubt on our elections. There’s no doubt we will continue seeing these anti-democratic efforts from the GOP slate of election deniers, but I can’t stress enough that as long as I’m governor, Nevadans should remain confident in our elections. 

Nevada Republicans tried — for the third time — to place a strict ID initiative on the ballot. Why do you think they’re so hellbent on putting this provision to a vote?

Nevada Republicans know they can’t win on their dangerous and out-of-touch stances, so they’re desperate to keep folks out of the electoral process. My opponent wants to implement voter ID laws that disproportionately affect seniors, minorities, people with disabilities, low-income voters and students — constituencies who are an integral part of the Silver State and deserve to have their voices heard. As long as I’m governor, I’ll continue to expand access to the ballot — not suppress it.

This year, a Republican-led PAC unsuccessfully attempted to get a referendum on the November ballot that, in part, sought to repeal a provision expanding ballot collection. Why has ballot collection become such a target in Nevada?

Nevada is a unique state. From our high senior population to our majority rural counties to our many working class families who have non-traditional work schedules, ballot collection allows more Nevadans to participate in our elections. But Republicans see this as yet another opportunity to suppress Nevada voters and make it as difficult as possible to cast a ballot. Repealing measures I signed into law to expand access to the ballot box is my opponent’s top priority, and this will no doubt exclude countless voters from our elections.

In June, two Republican lawsuits filed against Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske (R) seeking to drastically expand election observation activities in two Nevada counties failed. Should election observers be allowed to review individual ballots or closely engage with ballot processing?

I commend anyone who wants to participate in our democracy through election observation, but I don’t support Republican efforts to abuse election observing as a way to intimidate poll workers and interfere with ballot counting. The lawsuits would have been a direct attack on our elections and those who, despite growing threats, do the work of helping Nevdans make their voices heard. 

With your election in 2018, Nevada became a Democratic state trifecta for the first time since 1992. Why do you think the Silver State flipped after nearly 20 years and do you think this trend will hold in 2022?

While the Republican Party becomes more and more extreme and spearheads an unprecedented assault on our democracy, voters know and trust that Democrats are working for them — to protect their voting and abortion rights, make health care more affordable and accessible and create good paying jobs. We’ve made incredible progress over the last four years but there’s still more work to do. I hope Nevadans trust us to keep fighting for them.

Favorite way to vote?

Early, with my wife and two daughters.

If you weren’t running for office, what would you be doing? 

I’d be a Las Vegas Aces superfan! (More than I already am.)

Go-to walk up song?

Battle Born by The Killers