Brown vs. Laxalt: Pre-primary money chase

By Chuck Muth
In the Nevada GOP primary for U.S. Senate, DC-anointed front-runner Adam Laxalt is expected to report raising $1.4 million in the last quarter while upstart challenger and first-time candidate Sam Brown raised a surprising $1.1 million.
Interesting dynamic involved here: Laxalt will likely report most of his money coming from traditional establishment GOP movers-and-shakers while newcomer Brown will likely show widespread financial support from non-traditional small-dollar donors all across the country.
Both are conservative candidates. Both will have sufficient funding to be competitive. And the differences on issues important to conservative are negligible.
So the real question for Nevada Republican voters is gonna boil down to this: Which candidate has the best chance to beat incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez-Masto-Reid in the general election?
And make no mistake, she IS beatable despite the overwhelming money advantage she’ll have since she’ll also be running with three huge anvils named Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi wrapped snugly
around her neck.
While St. Catherine won the seat in 2016, it was by just over 2 points and only after her opponent in that race, then-Rep. Joe Heck, joined the now-infamous “Never Trump” press conference with failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney and ex-Sen. Dean “Never Trump” Heller.
Not exactly an electoral colossus who sends a tingle up the legs of Democrat voters.
Brown, still largely unknown to voters at this point, has a compelling story.
He joined the Army and was accepted at West Point a month after 9/11, graduated in 2006 and went on to become an Airborne Ranger. He was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division — “The Big Red One”— at Ft. Hood, Texas before shipping out for deployment in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2008.
While on patrol one fateful morning, Brown’s Humvee was blown off the road by an IED. He was doused in diesel fuel from the explosion and set on fire. He was burned from head to toe over 90 percent of his body and thought he was going to die.
But his men saved him, and Brown then went through years of excruciatingly painful rehab for his injuries. Anyone who doesn’t think this man in tough enough to face off against St. Catherine and the swamp creatures in Washington, DC is nuts.
The problem for Brown is that he’s not very well known. The problem for Laxalt is that he is.
Laxalt — who served four years as Nevada’s attorney general after eking out a razor-thin victory in the “red wave” election of 2014 and lost the governor’s race to Steve Sisolak in 2018 — is extremely well connected to and supported by Mitch McConnell and the GOP’s inside-the-beltway swamp creatures.
But he’s also earned a reputation for not being a “people person” on the campaign trail and people have noticed it. He has a sense of entitlement and destiny; that he’s the “chosen one” who’s going to lead Republicans in Nevada out of the desert and into the political promised land.
But many Republicans aren’t looking for a “savior.” They’re looking for a battlefield fighter who will lead them to victory. And Laxalt’s less-than-stellar campaigns in 2014 and 2018 are legitimate causes for doubt.
Brown, as a newbie candidate, must demonstrate he has the political chops to be an effective candidate on the campaign trail. Laxalt must demonstrate that he’s not going to be the same sub-standard candidate
he’s been in the past.
So while Brown and Laxalt are going to burn through a ton of money in the primary as St. Catherine sits up on her incumbent perch and watches the carnage, both candidates NEED this competitive primary to
sharpen their political skills.
Because it’s not necessarily the best candidate who wins, but the best campaign.
Yes, conventional wisdom says Laxalt should breeze through this primary. He’s got all the assets an establishment candidate could ever want.
But don’t dismiss Brown out of hand. He’s been counted out before… and he’s still standing. This is one tough SOB.
Gentlemen, let’s have a clean fight. Protect yourselves at all times.
Touch gloves, return to your corner and wait for the bell.
Ding, ding, ding!
P.S. Let’s go, Brandon!
* * * * *
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views and blogs at

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