Maybe you’ve seen the well-produced commercial that depicts earnest gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt, his eyes on the morning horizon, walking a fence line in what the folks in rural Northern Nevada like to call God’s country.
It attempts to connect the rising attorney general, a Republican star who has spent most of his four decades in and around Virginia, as a true Nevadan and part of the legendary Laxalt family’s history of service to the state.
It’s a legacy highlighted by the political success of the late Gov. and U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt, Adam’s maternal grandfather, a Western conservative best known for his measured rhetoric and his relationship with President Ronald Reagan. The political ad’s imagery is pretty effective, as far as it goes.
But it’s hard to tell just how such campaign soap still sells in a state that’s undergone such dramatic growth and demographic diversity. And it’s harder still to quantify now that some members of the Laxalt family—who for generations have known by heart the lyrics to the state’s official song and the names of its counties—have come out hard against Laxalt’s candidacy.
Wednesday evening at a Reno fundraiser for Democrat Steve Sisolak, attorney and author Monique Laxalt and Dr. Kristin Laxalt, daughters of Paul Laxalt’s brother, the celebrated Nevada writer Robert Laxalt, made clear their opinions of Adam Laxalt’s candidacy, conservatism and dedication to the state they love. If they were unenthusiastic about his well-publicized, well-funded, and ultimately successful run for attorney general four years ago, the passage of time has only stiffened their resolve.
“We feel an obligation to speak out in opposition to Adam Laxalt’s candidacy lest there be any misunderstanding that because he carries our family name he represents our family’s values,” Monique Laxalt said on behalf of herself and her sister in prepared remarks made at the home of attorney Margo Piscevich. “We believe he came from Washington to Nevada for the sole purpose of using the family name to pursue a political career which would allow him to eventually return to Washington as one of Washington’s most elite. We do not believe he came to Nevada based on any true connection to, or interest in, this State.
“Four years ago, with Washington money, he proceeded to capitalize on our family name to get himself elected as Attorney General of this State. Clearly aware of his own lack of qualifications for that position, he immediately recruited lawyer acquaintances from Washington to come to Nevada and surround him in the Attorney General’s Office, an act which demonstrated not only his own lack of qualifications, but a complete disdain for the many fine Nevada attorneys who have performed with excellence in that Office and who had earned and deserved those positions.
“In the position of Attorney General he has effectively spat in the face of one of the finest Governors Nevada has ever had [Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval].
“He has pursued the extreme positions of the ultra-rich donors who are now sponsoring his candidacy, who have little or no concern for the well-being of the hard-working people of this great State. These positions include his opposition to affordable healthcare for our most needy citizens, his opposition to the Commerce Tax conceived and realized by Governor Sandoval as a means to ensure quality education for our children, his refusal to enforce a gun-control law voted for by the people of our State, his opposition to regulations vital to the protection of our citizens.
“We believe that he not only has no true connection to Nevada, but has demonstrated a disdain for our beloved State and its people.
“We do not believe that Adam Laxalt represents Nevada or has the interests of our people at heart. We believe that Steve Sisolak does. And, as third-generation Nevadans, we strongly endorse the candidacy of Steve Sisolak for Governor.”
Nevada has long been a political Petri dish used by monied elites from all sides to test their theories and candidacies — mostly with very mixed results. Good people will differ on policy. And although I’ve never seen anything like it in my lifetime, it’s not the first time an AG and governor have clashed.
But the fact Monique and Kristin Laxalt felt alarmed enough to make public their deep concerns creates an image that figures to linger for the rest of this campaign.
Disclosure: Steve Sisolak has donated to The Indy. You can view a full list of our donors here.
John L. Smith is an author and longtime Nevada columnist. Contact him at [email protected]. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith