Brown closing in on Laxalt: Do you believe in miracles?
By Chuck Muth
By all accounts and conventional wisdom, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Adam Laxalt should be running away with the primary and should have put fellow GOP challenger Sam Brown away months ago.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation.
As Brown said in an interview just a couple days ago, “Turns out, I’m hard to kill.”
That’s an understatement!
Two national publications — NBC News and TIME Magazine — ran stories this week on the tightening race that was, and still is, Adam’s to lose.
Alas, so was his race against Steve Sisolak for governor in 2018.
“Last August, Donald Trump made a seemingly low-risk bet,” TIME noted on Trump’s endorsement of Laxalt. “But with less than two weeks until the June 14 primary, Trump’s bet has turned into more of a crapshoot.”
As NBC notes, Laxalt led brown by 38 points in March. The latest poll, two weeks ago, showed the race tightening to 15 points. And Brown shared with NBC internal polls showing the race now within the margin of error, while the Laxalt campaign “would not share their own internal polling.”
That means it must be bad.
Another sign that Brown might be poised to pull off “one of the biggest upsets to date in the midterm primaries” is that the DC-based Club for Growth is suddenly spending “nearly $850,000 to run attack ads against Brown.”
Remember the last time Club for Growth played in a Nevada U.S. Senate primary?
That was back in 2010 when they helped Harry Reid pick Sharron Angle as the GOP nominee. And we all remember how THAT turned out.
And CFG’s distain for Brown makes no sense. If you look at the organization’s mission statement, Brown checks off all the boxes. He’s certainly no RINO, which is what CFG has historically been opposed to.
The only fathomable explanation is they want another controllable Republican “swamp creature” in their stable, not a wild-card like Brown.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. On paper, Adam should have been a slam dunk for the GOP nomination.
He is, as TIME put it, “a descendant of GOP royalty.” His father was New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici and his grandfather was Nevada Sen. Paul Laxalt.
He was born in Reno, but was raised in “the swamp.” Adam attended an elite private school in Virginia and went on to work in the Bush administration for John Bolton — one of President Trump’s fiercest critics.
His privileged heritage has resulted in what one Washoe County GOP activist, Kathy Doyle, described as Adam’s “entitled, ‘it’s-his-turn’ attitude.”
Brown, on the other hand, “ain’t no senator’s son.”
As TIME notes, he “was born in Arkansas into a military family.” Both “his father and a brother also served in Afghanistan” — where Sam received his near-death war injuries and Purple Heart — while “another brother served in Iraq.”
Sam himself graduated from West Point, while Adam went to the prestigious Georgetown law school in the swamp. Sam was an actual combat soldier. Adam was JAG attorney.
But that hasn’t stopped Team Laxalt from attacking Sam over Sam’s great-grandfather founding the Cleveland Browns and a great-uncle currently owning the Cincinnati Bengals.
“He comes from a billionaire family that started two NFL franchises in Ohio,” John Burke, Laxalt’s spokesman, snarked to TIME.
But Sam has no involvement with, nor receives any financial benefit from, that distant family relationship whatsoever. He doesn’t even get season tickets! Pretty cheap shot from the Laxalt camp.
Speaking of cheap shots, Laxalt is also attacking Sam for supposedly being a “carpetbagging political tourist who only moved to Nevada because he lost a Texas state assembly primary.”
If that’s the best they’ve got, no wonder they’re running scared.
The fact is, after Sam was blown up and set on fire by an IED in Afghanistan, he was transferred to Fort Sam Houston in Texas where he spent three painful years recovering from his war injuries.
And yes, while there he did run unsuccessfully for the Texas Legislature in 2014.
Four years later, Sam moved his family to Reno and took a job at an Amazon warehouse before starting a business helping wounded veterans. And four more years later, he’s now running for the Senate here.
Sam didn’t move to Nevada to run for office. He moved here for a better life for his young family — just like over 75 percent of current Nevadans who moved here from other states (yours truly included).
Adam, on the other hand, DID “carpetbag” himself to Nevada from Virginia for the sole purpose of running for office. After spending almost his entire life in the swamp, he moved back to Las Vegas in 2012, told everyone he planned to run for office, and did exactly that just two years later.
What do they say about people living in glass houses?
But let’s get back to the race and the reasons why it appears to now be a barn-burner…
NBC notes that “Brown has won three straw polls, including one taken of the Nevada Republican Party” (which has officially endorsed Brown) and he’s “outpacing Laxalt more than 4 to 1 in small dollar donations” and “has some 40,000 individual donations to his campaign.”
While Brown and Laxalt have raised similar amounts — over $1 million in each quarter for the last three quarters — Laxalt’s financial support comes more from major donors and DC connections. That’s one of the reasons Nevada voters who NBC interviewed said Laxalt was “too close to the Republican establishment.”
One of those voters, “longtime Nevada businessman and influential donor” Perry Di Loreto, told NBC that he “backed Laxalt’s 2018 run for governor but personally told Laxalt he wouldn’t support him this time.”
“(Sam’s) an outsider,” Di Loreto said. “A lot of our problem is too many people have been there too long. We have managed to establish a ruling class in this country.”
Laxalt, indeed, is clearly in the camp of the DC insiders. He’s got all the best outside-Nevada endorsements, including Trump’s. But unlike in recent races that have been positively affected by Trump’s late backing, the sheen of his endorsement in Nevada seems to have worn off.
“Just so you know,” wrote a Muth’s Truths reader a couple days ago, “even if Laxalt ‘pulls out the big gun, Trump himself,’ I still won’t vote for him. He’s a ‘hell no.’ Sam Brown is my choice. I’ll go see Trump, always support Trump, and campaign for Trump. But not Laxalt. Trump doesn’t know Laxalt like we do.”
Indeed, LOTS of Trump supporters in Nevada are flocking to Brown’s camp. Voters NBC spoke with say they support Trump but also say “the former president simply got it wrong in this race by endorsing Laxalt.”
Those people, according Ric Grenell — a close Trump adviser and fawning Laxalt BFF (best friends forever) — are being “disloyal” to the President.
Those people, however, don’t see it that way. As I’ve pointed out often, just because you like pizza doesn’t mean you have to like anchovies.
Laxalt has also received support from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign operation. And in their only televised debate, Laxalt refused to say whether or not he’d vote for McConnell to remain as leader.
That means, of course, he will. And THAT’S not sitting well with a lot of Nevada Trump supporters either, as McConnell, like Bolton, has been a staunch antagonist and fierce critic of the former president.
Laxalt’s also taking heat, not only for his failure to win the 2018 gubernatorial race that was his to lose, but for Trump losing Nevada to Sleepy Joe in 2020 when Adam was his state campaign chairman.
Yes, he did spearhead efforts and lawsuits calling into question the validity of the 2020 election results — which is largely why Trump pre-maturely endorsed him so early — but all of those efforts failed because Laxalt and the Nevada Republican Party were unable to provide actual evidence of voting fraud.
And before you jump down my throat and shout, “Yes there was!” let me ask you this: Where’s the evidence?
The fact remains, to this day, that neither Laxalt nor the Nevada GOP has ever publicly released the supposed 120,000 pieces of “evidence” they claim to have that proves election fraud. If they really have 120,000 examples of voting fraud, why can’t you or I see it?
They should put up or shut up.
Truth is, both Laxalt and the party screwed the pooch on this one. Bigly.
Let’s wrap up with this…
Because of the predicted “red wave” coming in November — “Let’s Go Brandon!” — either Laxalt or Brown will be in a good position to take out incumbent Democrat Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto-Reid. But it’s far from a done deal.
And as the TIME story notes, “some Republican sources in Nevada argue Laxalt would be an easier opponent for Cortez Masto to defeat.”
“If I’m on Masto’s team, I would want Laxalt to get the nomination,” said an unnamed GOP consultant interviewed by TIME. “How do you run against Brown?”
Indeed, Laxalt has more baggage than a Samsonite factory.
All of which led TIME to conclude in its article…
“While Laxalt is a known quantity, Brown would be more of a leap into the unknown for Republicans. That sense of unpredictability is part of what has excited Brown’s supporters, and might be precisely what helps him deliver one of the biggest primary upsets of the season.”
Make no mistake, this remains Laxalt’s race to lose. Then again, he’s done it before.
Either way, whichever candidate emerges from the primary will have PLENTY of money and national GOP support for the general election. That’s not even a question. Nevada’s U.S. Senate race is one of THE top seats ripe for a GOP pickup.
So the bottom line for me is this: Which candidate, Brown or Laxalt, would have the BEST chance in November? And I share the opinion that that person is the Purple Heart war hero…
Captain Sam Brown.
“Do you believe in miracles?!!”
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Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views and blogs at MuthsTruths.com