Give Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore credit for a rare feat: She kept the announcement that she was running for governor of Nevada secret until the very last second.
Given the news that Fiore’s home was raided by the FBI and that she initially said she’d be joined at Wednesday’s news conference by her attorney, we figured her announcement was legal, not political.
Instead, with supporters arrayed behind her and a staffer quickly slapping a Fiore placard onto the podium at the Italian American Club, she surprised everybody.
Fiore’s name has been floated as a candidate for several offices, including Las Vegas mayor. “I will be kicking (fellow Las Vegas Councilman Cedric) Crear’s A** in the mayor’s race. Mayor Fiore sounds pretty dam (sic) good to me,” Fiore said on Twitter in March.
But even better than her live-action announcement was Fiore’s gubernatorial launch video. It depicts her alighting from her Ford pickup to declare her fealty to Donald Trump and disdain for “the same old boring, moderate, compromised, blue-blazer politicians.”
She then shoots some beer bottles symbolizing critical race theory, mask mandates and voter fraud before declaring, “The Joe Biden administration is coming after me. I’m Michele Fiore and I’m ready for the fight.”
Oh, she’s ready to fight, all right. If you doubt it, ask her fellow Republican council colleague Victoria Seaman, who alleged in court documents that Fiore broke her finger during a City Hall scuffle.
But seriously, Fiore has done well only when running in small districts. Look at the numbers: She has never earned more than 14,240 votes in any non-political party election she’s ever run in. She’s never represented more than 82,000 constituents in any office she’s ever held. (Fiore does serve as Nevada’s Republican national committeewoman.)
She came in second in 2010 in the Republican primary for the 1st Congressional District with 22 percent of the vote. In 2016, she ran in the GOP primary for the 3rd Congressional District and ended up in third place with 18 percent, behind Danny Tarkanian and former state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson.
Will she do better this time? The question assumes she’s actually going to file, instead of using the campaign to raise money. Her reference to the Biden administration being after her (read: being under investigation for alleged crimes) suggests a run for office might be more of a political shield than a real campaign.
No matter her intent, Fiore’s entry had Republicans reaching for the Tylenol, and Democrats going back to church. The already-crowded primary is going to be difficult enough without Fiore taking votes and money away from fellow southerners Joe Lombardo and John Lee.
Her positioning as a Trump believer rivals Reno attorney Joey Gilbert, who loves the former president more than Trump’s own sons. And her presence, should she file and see it through until June, will draw even more Trump base voters to the polls, which isn’t good news for more moderate candidates such as Lombardo and ex-U.S. Sen. Dean Heller.
Fiore is known for many things. She loves guns and poses with them for Christmas cards. She once told fellow Republican Chris Edwards to “sit your ass down” on the Assembly floor, earning her a rebuke from the body. She awkwardly tried to compliment former Assemblyman Harvey Munford by noting he was the first “colored man” to graduate from his college. She drew criticism when she took issue with affirmative action and used what were reported as “racially charged” comments in a speech. She once tried to justify drawing down on the police.
Fight? Oh, she’s got a lot of it. But mass appeal? That remains to be seen. And how far her gun-toting, Trump-loving, pickup-driving, moderate-slamming, mask mandate-hating persona goes even in a Republican primary is still very much an open question.
Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.