Nevada judge denies loser’s protest of GOP governor primary

August 11, 2022 GMT

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A Nevada judge has dismissed Republican Joey Gilbert’s lawsuit seeking to overturn his loss to Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Gilbert, a Reno lawyer who was outside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, finished second in the June primary to Lombardo by 11 percentage points, or about 26,000 votes.

He was seeking a recount of ballots by hand that he claimed — without any evidence — would result in him winning the GOP nomination by more than 55,000 votes. Gilbert’s campaign separately had already paid for a recount that showed no change in the overall outcome.

Lombardo, the sheriff in Las Vegas who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is seeking to unseat first-term Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak in November’s general election in the swing Western state.

Carson City District Court Judge James Wilson announced his decision from the bench during a status hearing Wednesday afternoon. But a formal order had not been issued by the time the clerk’s office closed for the day. The Nevada Independent first reported the ruling.

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J. Colby Williams, Lombardo’s lawyer, confirmed in an email to The Associated Press Wednesday night that Judge Wilson “granted our motion for summary judgment today, effectively dismissing the case with prejudice, and directed us to submit a proposed order (to) that effect, which we’ve done.”

“We cannot comment further until the court issues its written order,” Williams wrote.

Lombardo declined to comment on the judge’s ruling in a brief campaign statement emailed to The Associated Press, saying: “It’s time to take our state back.”

Gilbert didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

A former boxer who enjoyed support from the GOP’s far-right wing, he campaigned on false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, something Lombardo never claimed.

Gilbert’s lawsuit filed last month in state district court in Carson City was based primarily on mathematical formulas and algorithms that he said showed the results certified by every county in the state were erroneous and a “geometric impossibility.”

Gilbert said earlier this month he would never concede the primary election to Lombardo. He maintained that his challenges to the outcome were not about his loss but election integrity overall.

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His lawsuit was based largely on the false assumption that a fair election would result in each candidate’s vote total being divided roughly proportionally equal to the others in terms of whether the ballots were cast by mail, in-person during early voting and in-person on election day.

Gilbert’s refusal to concede was denounced by many high-profile Republicans. Nevada GOP chairman Michael McDonald said Gilbert had a right to file the lawsuit, but he wished he’d abandon the effort and unite with other Republicans in support of Lombardo’s campaign.

Former U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, who lost his seat to Democrat Jacky Rosen in 2018 and finished third in this year’s primary for the GOP gubernatorial primary in June, said recently that lawsuits like the one Gilbert filed are “almost always counterproductive and can do serious damage to the reputation of the Republican Party.”

Heller was Nevada’s secretary of state when he oversaw the most famous recount in the state’s election history in 1998, when Democratic Sen. Harry Reid defeated Republican John Ensign by 428 votes in a recount that lasted six weeks after Election Day results showed Reid winning by 459.

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Gabe Stern, a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative, contributed to this report. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.