John Lee’s website asks for donations to “fight against the radical agenda from Steve Sisolak” and to “Chip in to fight cancel culture.” (Screengrab from Lee campaign video)
“Socialism is a cancer,” cancer-survivor John Lee declares at the start of his new campaign video. The camera pans over vast desert dunes and zooms in on Lee, hunched over on a mountain bike, pumping his legs.
In the video released Monday morning, Lee confirms his previously rumored candidacy for the Republican nomination for governor in 2022. He cites an insurgent radical left as his primary reason for entrance. His website asks for donations to “fight against the radical agenda from Steve Sisolak” and to “Chip in to fight cancel culture.”
Lee was a registered Democrat until just last month, when he announced his official switch to the Republican Party on Fox & Friends, pointing to the democratic socialist takeover of the Nevada Democratic Party.
Lee is touting his experience as North Las Vegas mayor, but his campaign materials make no mention of his twelve years as a Democrat in state government. Lee served in the Nevada Assembly from 1997 to 2001, and the state Senate from 2004 to 2012. He lost his state Senate reelection campaign to the more-progressive Pat Spearman.
In 2013, he became mayor of North Las Vegas, and is now in his second term. When Lee took office, the city was reeling from the recession, facing budget shortfalls, bad credit, and a lack of development. Lee is credited with helping facilitate its recovery and, in part through layoffs, cutting the budget deficit. He prioritized seeking out new commercial projects and industry, too, especially focusing on development in Apex Industrial Park.
His time as mayor has been colored by controversy. Most notably, Lee was investigated by the FBI for possession of child pornography in 2015. The case was dismissed for a lack of evidence, but not everyone was convinced: Former North Las Vegas police chief Joseph Chronister alleged that Lee had received special treatment because of his status.
Come June, Lee could be facing a tough Republican primary. Other Republicans considering a run for governor include Rep. Mark Amodei, Sheriff Joe Lombardo, and former Lieutenant Governor Mark Hutchison.
The official filing deadline for the 2022 election is next March.
Update: Lee announced on Facebook late Monday afternoon that he has tested positive for Covid-19 and is “feeling well with no symptoms.” Lee said he has “not yet gotten the vaccine, and I’d like this to serve as a reminder to all to continue to take proper precautions.”
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