Nevada candidate seeks Trump’s favor with Florida TV spot

CARSON CITY, Nevada (AP) – In a campaign ad, Nevada gubernatorial candidate Michele Fiore pulls out of a Ford F-150 with a handgun in a hip holster and tells viewers that ‘she was one of the first elected to support Donald Trump in ahead of the 2016 election.

“You better believe I was attacked for it,” Fiore says, affirming his commitment to the former president as a country rock style guitar riff plays in the background.

She’s hoping Trump is watching.

In addition to buying ads in Nevada media markets like his competitors, Fiore is investing campaign funds to broadcast his 60-second segment in Palm Beach, Florida, where the former president spends the winter at his club. Mar-a-Lago.

His campaign spent $ 6,270 to air 62 television spots on Fox News in the West Palm Beach-Fort Pierce media marketplace during the last week of November, according to Federal Communications Commission documents. Since leaving office, Trump has divided his time between Florida, his official residence, and his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he spent most of last summer.

When Fiore’s ads ran over the Thanksgiving holiday, he and his family were in Mar-a-Lago.

Candidates and interest groups have long used targeted cable ads as a means to reach out to television-obsessed Trump, often lining up spots in Washington and Florida to grab his attention when he was in the White House or on holiday. Fiore’s decision reflects Trump’s enduring post-presidential influence within the Republican Party and underscores how his endorsement is viewed as a potential change by Republicans involved in primary battles across the country.

Since Trump left the White House, much of the competition for his attention has been in Florida. In one particularly striking example, a multi-sided billboard on the boulevard connecting Palm Beach International Airport to Mar-a-Lago is often adorned with messages from supporters and detractors.

At the club, Trump hosted dozens of fundraisers and other events for Republicans running for the United States Senate, Governor, and other offices, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Dakota Gov. South Kristi Noem and Sarah Sanders, his former press secretary now running for Governor of Arkansas. The venue usually guarantees strong representation, thanks to its loyal and paying members and Trump appears often, even at events he isn’t hosting.

He has also welcomed a succession of candidates seeking his support, including Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin running against incumbent Republican Gov. Brad Little. Trump endorsed McGeachin a week after his visit to Mar-a-Lago in November.

Fiore, a Las Vegas city councilor, is one of at least 10 candidates to run for governor in Nevada, a swing state Trump narrowly lost in 2020.

She was elected in 2012 to the Statehouse of Nevada, where she championed gun rights and presented a controversial proposal that would have significantly reduced federal authority to manage Nevada’s public lands and waters. Her ties and support to breeder Cliven Bundy and her family during armed clashes between self-proclaimed members of citizen militias and federal law enforcement propelled her into the national spotlight in 2014 and 2016.

This year, Fiore is operating on a platform that includes opposing coronavirus warrants, supporting law enforcement against protesters she calls “national terrorists” and overturning Nevada’s decision. to send postal ballots to all active voters.

Other contenders for the June 2022 Republican primary include former US Senator Dean Heller, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, and Joey Gilbert, a lawyer for Reno who was outside the United States Capitol at the time. of last year’s insurgency. The winner will face Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak, who gained 5.1 percentage points in 2018.

Trump’s representatives did not respond to questions about whether he saw Fiore’s announcement or planned to endorse it in the Nevada gubernatorial race.

The Fiore campaign also spent more than $ 100,000 running ads in Reno, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, where the media market stretches into rural northeastern Nevada. Targeting Florida airwaves in addition to Nevada is simply a reminder of the former president of her long-standing support, campaign consultant Rory McShane said.

“Many candidates seek Trump’s support, but if you look back four and five years ago, a lot of those same candidates disowned Trump and even organized anti-Trump rallies,” McShane said.

“It is important to remind the president’s team that Michele Fiore is the only true America First candidate to run for governor,” he added.

Heller, who told The Associated Press last week that he would also welcome Trump’s approval, objected to Trump over efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017, but both reconciled and campaigned together in 2018, when then-US Representative Jacky Rosen defeated Heller in The Nevada Senate Race.

As of 2020, Fiore has been the only candidate to run for a statewide office outside of Florida to buy ads from Comcast, a cable operator in the region, according to a review of the files from the FCC.

“What this tells me is that – assuming the goal here is to get noticed by former President Trump – the ads are aimed at an audience of one, as opposed to an audience of thousands. or millions of voters, ”said John, a professor at Vanderbilt University. Sides, a political scientist who has written about the effects of television advertising on political campaigns.

“The math is if you can get to the president’s radar screen or gain his support,” Sides said, “then this approval will be worth the investment of buying ads in a media marketplace thousands of miles away. “


Associated Press editors Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Jill Colvin in New York City contributed to this report. Metz is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative body. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.

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