Outside spending on Nevada governor, other races topped $48 million


Steve Marcus

Steve Sisolak, candidate for Nevada governor, thanks supporters during a Nevada Democrats election night party at Caesars Palace Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018.

Tue, Nov 27, 2018 (2 a.m.)

The close contest for Nevada governor and other competitive state races this year drew at least $48.6 million in outside spending, including about $38 million on ads that filled airways and mailboxes, according to fundraising documents.

Campaign finance reports from 30 political action committees that focused at least some of their efforts on the governor's race show heavy spending on behalf of Democrats, who were able to flip the top job for the first time in two decades.

The Associated Press reviewed campaign finance reports through Nov. 2, the most recent available, for state-registered PACs that ran at least some digital, television or radio ads related to the race for Nevada governor.

Democrat Steve Sisolak, chairman of the Clark County Commission that governs the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding communities, won the Nov. 6 election by carrying 49 percent of the vote. Republican state Attorney General Adam Laxalt picked up 45 percent.

The $48.6 million in outside spending is on top of the more than $22 million combined that Laxalt's and Sisolak's campaigns spent this year.

PACs that spent in the race may have directed some of their funds to other state contests, such as the race for attorney general or legislative battles, but it's unclear exactly how much. Nevada campaign finance laws do not require PACs to detail how much they spent supporting or opposing a particular candidate.

Campaign ads online and on the airways indicate most of the groups focused their spending on the top-of-the-ticket governor's race, including the general election battle between Laxalt and Sisolak and the Democratic primary between Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani.

At least $16 million was spent by groups supportive of Laxalt, while more than $32 million was spent by those backing Sisolak or Giunchigliani, including more than $5 million spent on behalf of Giunchigliani before she lost the June 12 primary.

Nevada Families First, a Sisolak-supporting PAC heavily funded by the Democratic Governors Association, spent $9.5 million.

The Republican Governors Association, backing Laxalt, spent $8.9 million for him. It also made the biggest single ad buy, reporting an expenditure of $4.5 million in September.

While the spending in the governor's race was heavy, it was dwarfed by $66 million spent by outside groups in the U.S. Senate race, in which Democrat Jacky Rosen toppled incumbent Republican Dean Heller.

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