Attack ads boost Chattah’s law practice, but helped destroy her, 2 other Republicans in 2022 election ‘smear campaign,’ she says
By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
Republican Sigal Chattah, running of office for the first time, lost the race for Nevada attorney general in November by about eight percentage points to incumbent Democrat, Aaron Ford.
Yet the high-profile campaign and ads attacking Chattah seems to be helping her career as an trial lawyer, she said Tuesday on Nevada Newsmakers.
“The irony of ironies is that when they spent $10 million against me, they made sure I became a household name in every home in Nevada,” she told host Sam Shad.
“And business is booming,” Chattah said. “So I am that type of person who looks at that silver lining. Yes, I didn’t win the attorney general’s office but business is booming. I could not spend $10 million in decades of my career to promote my name.”
She loves her job and may not run for office again.
“I love being in the courtroom,” she said. “I’ll probably die in front of a jury. That is my passion. I’m a trial lawyer, through and through. So without saying never (will I run again), at this time, probably not.”
While Chattah may now benefit professionally from the attack ads, she said the Democratic ad campaigns for attorney general, treasurer and secretary of state combined to wage “an incessant smear campaign” against the Republican candidates in those races.
That campaign — against her, treasurer candidate Michele Fiore and secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant — helped keep GOP voters at home, which hurt GOP candidates up and down the ticket, Chattah said.
“So the incessant smearing of half of the ticket, I think, created a chilling effect on Republican voters coming out,” she said. “And that chilling effect was the fact that Republicans voters sat at home and said, ‘Jeez, we’re seeing all of these commercials, we’re seeing the Reno Gazette-Journal and the Las Vegas Review-Journal run these attacks on half of the ticket.’ And the collateral damage was (done to) candidates like Drew Johnson, April Becker, Sam Peters.”
Becker and Peters were unsuccessful GOP congressional candidates while Johnson ran and lost for a seat on the Clark County Commission as a Republican.
“This was really a year when Republicans should have won but you have a collaborative effort between Democrats and some of these establishment Republicans,” she said. “They’re the ones that cost Nevada the Republican seats. It’s tragic. It really is.”
Chattah learned early on about the truth of the long-standing American political adage, “Republicans Eat Their Own.”
“Coming from an adversarial profession, which is the legal profession, I definitely knew that my opposition would be the incumbent,” she said. “What shocked me was the enemies I made in the Republican Party. It was almost like having to fight members of my own party. I will tell you that people told me that would happen. Even before I tossed my name into the race, I was very well-advised that Republicans eat their own.”
She called the group who brought down the GOP candidates the “Nevada Lincoln Project,” making reference to a group of Democrats and moderate Republicans who were opposed to the re-election of President Trump in 2020.
“The Lincoln Project, we can call them RINOs, we can call them the more moderate Republicans that really came out against Trump and the Trump establishment (and) the ideology,” she said. “And what they did was they caused a lot of damage in the 2020 election.
“And I equate that to a group of people that did the same thing here in Nevada (in 2022), Nevada’s version of the Lincoln Project,” she said. “Because what they really did is spearhead this attack — this position against three candidates — it was myself and it was Michele and it was Jim, using a false narrative.”
Two well-known political influencers — former state Republican Party chair Amy Tarkanian and former Republican State Senate Leader Michael Roberson — publicly supported Ford. Two other leading Republicans from Reno — legislative lobbyist Elliot Malin, plus pro-charter school and anti-prostitution advocate Jason Guinasso — also supported Ford.
“I think there were a lot of consultants behind that,” Chattah said of the Republicans who supported Democratic candidates. “And what does that do to the person sitting at home who doesn’t have this ‘inside baseball’ knowledge? They are sitting at home and they are saying, ‘Gosh, half our ticket is being slammed.’ True or false, it is going to dissuade Republican voters from voting.”
Chattah called the situation “heart-breaking.”
“It really is heart-breaking to me — heart wrenching — to see some of these first-time candidates that really cared and came from the private sector, they were collateral damage and I blame that on wholly what I call the Nevada Lincoln Project and the consultants who were behind this collaborative effort.”
Chattah said the ‘Nevada Lincoln Project’ lumped her in with another GOP election denier, which mis-characterized her stance on the veracity of the 2020 election.
“Look, I was never an election denier,” she said. “In the first interview I gave, I came out very clear that I believed that the 2020 election was won, that I didn’t have any issues with the 2020 election.
“But what happened is you had one person (who was an election denier), take that, parlay it, and all of a sudden I was being lumped in as an election denier when that was never an issue,” she said.
“And I think that narrative was simply perpetuated over and over and (then) we were all called ‘unhinged election deniers.’ It was a great fallacy. ”
Chattah was also charged as being a racist by some Democrats. Ford, the former Senate Majority Leader in the Legislature, refused to debate her, citing a statement Chattah made in a private and leaked text — that Ford “should be hanging from a crane.”
Ford is black and has said where he is from, it is racist to threaten black people with lynching.
Chattah has said previously that as a woman of Yemeni Jewish heritage, she was only comparing him to a corrupt leader of the militant Palestinian movement, Hamas.
“Calling me a racist, thank God I’m Jewish because otherwise, I would have been called an anti-Semite,” Chattah said. “I think that (being racist) is part of the narrative that is perpetuated to discredit Republican candidates.”
Chattah noted she is a Yemenite Jew, a group who are reportedly subjected to racism and police brutality in Israel, along with Jews from North Africa, Ethopia and India, because of a darker shade of skin.
“Going in, we knew there were going to be personal attacks,” she said. “Calling me a racist was the funniest of the attacks. I’m a Yemenite Jew, which does get much darker than being a Yemenite Jew. Most people don’t even understand what a Yemenite Jew is because they don’t know there are Yemenite Jews, unless you really study the history. And understand that we are definitely a minority in Israel and a super-minority in the United States.”
When asked if her campaign promise to root out corruption in state government resonated with voters, Chattah shot back:
“I would not change my narrative in a million years. I loved that message,” she said. “I ran to be that different kind of candidate. I wasn’t going to be your typical politician that’s going to feed you all of theses rainbows and unicorns. I ran for the office of attorney general in order to provide the public that transparency and provide the public with the ability to hold their public officials accountable.”
Some people in state government who deserve to be prosecuted are relieved Chattah did not win, she said.
“My platform was corruption and that scared a lot of people,” Chattah said. “A lot of people are dodging indictments because I’m not in office and that is the truth of the matter.”
Chattah said she will not contest the election.
“Yes, there are anomalies. And do I have my suspicions? Yes. But I am not going to object to the election. I always said I would accept the (results of the) election.”
Watch this episode of Nevada Newsmakers.