The Nevada Republican Party on Tuesday refuted baseless allegations of voter fraud from losing Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Joey Gilbert.
Joe Lombardo, the former Clark County sheriff who rebranded in the primary as a hardline right-winger, is projected by the Associated Press to defeat Gilbert, a COVID truther and voter fraud conspiracy theorist who marched on the Capitol on Jan. 6. Lombardo led Gilbert 38.4% to 27.6% with 82% of precincts reporting Wednesday morning.
Gilbert immediately declared that he would not concede the race and may even file a lawsuit contesting the race.
"Maybe the establishment and swamp rats forgot who they're dealing with," he wrote on Facebook, adding a rat emoji. "I smell a lawsuit because this STINKS! I will concede nothing. No one likes No Show Joe and he absolutely is not beating me, and will not beat me in a fair fight/race. There's a reason a real fighter with real legal teams is in this fight."
The Nevada Republican Party, which is being overrun by election conspiracy theorists in the wake of former President Donald Trump's "Big Lie" grift, stoked baseless allegations of fraud after Trump's 2020 loss and backed his failed lawsuits seeking to overturn the results. The party's voters on Tuesday nominated for Senate former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who has been likened by local media to the "Nevada version of Rudy Giuliani" after leading the failed Trump lawsuits and vowing lawsuits in his general election matchup months before anyone votes. And GOP voters also nominated for secretary of state election denier Jim Marchant, who has vowed to impose severe new voting restrictions in the state and is backing other notorious conspiracy theorists.
Despite its embrace of election conspiracy theorists, the Nevada GOP, whose executive committee endorsed Gilbert in the primary, expressed dismay that he was challenging the results of their primary election, which, like the 2020 presidential race, has not seen any evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities.
"There's no indication that there's any fraud right now," party Chairman Mike McDonald told the Review-Journal's Colton Lochhead. "It's disappointing that those comments come out of the Republican Party."
"I don't know what his comments alluded to. My goal is to unite the party and bring everyone together so we have a Republican red wave," McDonald told the Las Vegas Sun.
McDonald's comments came under criticism given the party's headfirst dive into election denialism.
"Can you imagine the chutzpah or stupidity or both that it takes for a guy who helped lead the voter fraud nonsense in 2020 to say something like this?" Jon Ralston, a longtime Nevada reporter and CEO of The Nevada Independent, wrote in response to McDonald's remarks. "Imagine going through life without caring about truth, without caring how you damage your own party. Absolute joke."
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It's not just Nevada: Trumpist election denialism has gripped this cycle's Republican primaries. More than 100 Republican supporters of Trump's election lies have already won party nominating contests just a third of the way through the primary season, according to a Washington Post analysis. And some aren't waiting for general elections to cry fraud.
Kandiss Taylor, a right-wing Georgia gubernatorial candidate who received just 3.4% of the vote after running on a platform of "Jesus Guns Babies," cried fraud after losing the race by more than 70 points. MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, a Trump ally who has spent tens of millions pushing bogus fraud claims, also claimed that an unspecified "algorithm" was used to cheat Taylor and vowed a "big investigation" to prove it despite failing to prove any fraud claims since November 2020.
Lindell has repeatedly pushed a fantastical conspiracy theory that Dominion voting machines are used to flip votes from candidates he supports. Former Attorney General Bill Barr in testimony to the House Jan. 6 committee called the conspiracy theory "complete nonsense" and "idiotic," adding that there is "absolutely zero basis for the allegations."
Nevertheless, the Republican-led commission of rural Otero County, New Mexico is refusing to certify last week's primary results because of distrust of Dominion voting machines and voted to recount ballots by hand in violation of state law, according to the AP. The commission, which is led by Cowboys for Trump co-founder Couy Griffin— who was convicted of illegally entering the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 — previously spent tens of thousands performing a door-to-door audit of the 2020 election even though Trump won the county by 25 points.
New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Olive, a Democrat, said the commission is violating the law and asked the state Supreme Court to order the panel to certify its results.
"The post-election canvassing process is a key component of how we maintain our high levels of election integrity in New Mexico," she said in a statement, "and the Otero County Commission is flaunting that process by appeasing unfounded conspiracy theories and potentially nullifying the votes of every Otero County voter who participated in the primary."