John Locher / AP
Friday, Aug. 20, 2021 | 2 a.m.
Prominent Republicans outside of Nevada are talking up Adam Laxalt in his campaign for U.S. Senate, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the National Republican Senatorial chair, etc.
But based on Laxalt’s election track record, he needs all the friends he can get beyond Nevada’s borders, because most Nevadans don’t support him. Even Nevada Republicans aren’t too crazy about him.
In the 2014 election for Nevada attorney general, the only election he’s ever won, Laxalt was the weakest-performing Republican candidate for the six statewide positions. He drew just 46.2% of the vote, and squeaked by Democrat Ross Miller by fewer than 5,000 votes. This came in an election the GOP dominated, winning every statewide position, unseating a Democratic congressman and seizing control of both chambers of the Legislature. Incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who in contrast to Laxalt was popular among Nevadans, drew just over 70% of the vote that year.
In the 2018 governor’s race, which Laxalt lost to Gov. Steve Sisolak, his paltry vote share from 2014 dipped even lower — to 45.1%. And after losing both Clark County and Washoe County in 2014, he lost them by larger margins in 2018 — an 8% dive in Clark County, and a 1% drop-off in Washoe. Even members of Laxalt’s own family were against him, as a dozen of them wrote a guest column to the Reno Gazette-Journal urging voters not to support him.
Laxalt is anything but a political star within Nevada, despite what GOP extremist leaders outside of the state might have you believe.
Instead, he’s a supplicant of Donald Trump, which is why the national GOP has latched on to him.
Nevadans should prepare themselves to be inundated by Laxalt propaganda — the Big Lie, culture-war issues, false claims about Black Lives Matter protests and antifa, vilification of immigrants, white grievance issues, and much more.
He’s already at it, in fact, as demonstrated in a “Star Wars”-themed video accompanying his official campaign announcement last week. In it, he likens left-leaning elements of society to the Empire and calls them the “enemy.” The takeaway is crystal clear: In Laxalt’s view, you’re either on the side of those like him — the ones suppressing the vote, disempowering minorities and supporting a Trump-led autocracy — or you’re the enemy of the people.
Let that sink in a moment in a state where the majority of voters have cast their ballots against him.
And the faux heroism from Laxalt in the video is in sharp contrast to another recent video — Laxalt scurrying onto a bus like a cockroach from light as reporters demanded he explain his efforts to disenfranchise Nevada voters in 2020. The sheer cowardice of the man, when he doesn’t have a mob behind him, was on sharp display. Republican donations to his losing cause will be like flushing money down the toilet.
Nevadans should remember Laxalt for what he is — a failed candidate who tried to overturn the results of a free and fair election in 2020, and someone who has neither denounced the Jan. 6 insurrection nor done anything to counter the rise of violent extremists within his own party.
Even if he hadn’t become the Nevada version of Rudy Giuliani, Laxalt would be no better as a candidate today than he was when he lost in 2018. He’s done nothing leadership-wise to improve his standing. Instead, in 2019 he went to work for a Washington, D.C.-based law firm that specializes in suing the government.
But as for as his public role, his most prominent activity since 2018 has been entirely negative for Nevada. As Trump’s lead attorney in Nevada, Laxalt filed junk lawsuits and spread lies about election fraud that subjected courageous and principled election officials to threats among his party’s extremists. Those he vilified included a member of his own party, Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, who for decades had been a faithful and popular member of the party.Keep in mind that this came from a man who, as attorney general, once swore an oath to “support, protect and defend” the constitutions and laws of the United States and Nevada.
The fact is that Laxalt has limited ties to Nevada — before 2014, he’d spent a significant portion of his career in Washington, D.C. He ran here on the strength of his surname, as the grandson son of former Gov. Paul Laxalt, and barely won one election in which other Republicans cruised.
It’s little surprise that he performed even worse four years later, given how poorly he served Nevadans as attorney general. His record included enjoining Nevada into a lawsuit against the Obama administration’s immigration policies — an action that Sandoval vocally opposed — and going against the will of Nevada voters by blocking implementation of a successful ballot question for universal background checks on firearms purchases.
Now comes Laxalt the Trump henchman, and he’s an even worse candidate.
Nevadans will be hearing plenty from him — and about him, from extremists like DeSantis, Cotton and undoubtedly Trump — between now and the 2022 election. Birds of a feather flock together, and now Laxalt’s friends from outside will be fluttering all over Nevada to barrage us with the rhetorical equivalent of the stuff that birds seem to enjoy dropping on our freshly washed cars.
Voters here should filter all of the noise through what we know about him. He’s someone who was an unpopular candidate in Nevada to begin with, and has only become more destructive since his last time on the ballot.