Ryan Bundy's long-shot gubernatorial campaign could peel off just enough votes to tip the Nevada election to a Democrat for the first time in 24 years.
Steve Sisolak, chairman of the Clark County Commission, has been gaining ground on Republican Adam Laxalt, the state attorney general, in the closing weeks of the campaign, but Bundy could play a spoiler role, reported Mother Jones.
Most polls -- which are showing a statistical dead heat between Laxalt and Sisolak -- don't even include Bundy, but one taken in September sponsored by the Reno Gazette-Journal showed the fringe candidate drawing about 4.2 percent support.
If that level of support is reflected at the ballot box, that could be enough votes to potentially swing the election.
Bundy, son of scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy and one of the ringleaders of the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, would most likely cut into Laxalt's support than Sisolak's.
“The votes that Ryan would take are probably going to come from rural Nevada rather than urban [counties around Las Vegas and Reno],” said Chuck Muth, a Las Vegas political consultant and former executive director of the Nevada Republican Party. “And that’s where Republicans need to have a good showing.”
Nevada Republicans see Bundy as enough of a threat that state party leaders have urged him to drop out of the race, but he has refused -- and remains unconvinced that his presence on the ticket could tip the election to a Democrat.
“If they’re too concerned about splitting the vote then maybe Adam Laxalt ought to drop out and allow me to win,” Bundy told Mother Jones. “The principles which I stand for are for liberty for all and will transcend party lines. I’m hoping to draw out a lot of the voters who are not voting. Voter turnout in Nevada is very low. You have to wonder if it’s apathy or are they tired of voting for the lesser of two evils?”
Bundy and his brother, Ammon, were acquitted in Oregon on most charges related to the refuge takeover, and a Nevada judge declared a mistrial on charges related to a 2014 standoff with federal agents at their father's ranch.