A local Nevada primary race could have national election implications in a key state

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The commission that oversees Nevada’s second-most populous county approved its new elections director earlier this year in a familiar split vote.

The three votes in favor came from two Democrats and a moderate Republican, Clara Andriola. The no votes came from two Republican commissioners who cast doubt on the election or voted against certifying the results and who are supported by a broader movement within the county that promotes election conspiracy theories.

That movement now hopes to unseat Andriola from the Washoe County Board of Commissioners in Tuesday’s Republican primary and create a majority on the board. This could have national implications because the commission has significant oversight over the elections office for a swing county in one of the nation’s most important states in the battleground between the presidency and the U.S. Senate.

Andriola, whose bipartisan votes on the commission earned her censure from the county GOP, said she was disheartened by the attacks within her own party.

“I think elections should not be a partisan issue,” she said. “Unfortunately, this has become a very partisan issue.”

President Alexis Hill said attacks on the election office and its employees are unfounded and harm democracy by undermining confidence in elections and their results. But Hill, a Democrat, also said she fully understood why the office was in the crosshairs of election conspiracy theorists and why they were seeking a majority on the commission.

“This is a national issue; it’s not just a Washoe County problem,” she said. “If you cast doubt on the election in Washoe County, it has a ripple effect that puts in doubt a possible presidential election, a possible Senate election. It’s very dangerous.”

The dynamics playing out in the politically mixed region of Northern Nevada, which includes Reno, are similar to dramas that have played out elsewhere, including neighboring Arizona, another swing state where conspiracy theorists have targeted local councils and electoral offices in recent years.

Arizona’s July primary also features those who promoted false election claims and are candidates for the board of directors and the elections office in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix. Civil servants there were subjected to an incessant stream of attacks and threats from Democrat Joe Biden narrowly defeated Republican Donald Trump in the state during the 2020 presidential election.

In Washoe County, a wealthy far-right activist, Robert Beadles, financially supported the two Republicans on the committee who voted against the elections director’s nomination in January. He also spearheaded efforts to unseat Andriola, who was appointed and supported by Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo. Since the commission’s district covers a Republican-leaning part of the county, the candidate who emerges from Tuesday’s primary will be favored to win the seat in November, which covers much of Reno…

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