RENO – Republican U.S. Senate candidate Adam Laxalt set off on campaign tour of Nevada Friday, warning a hometown crowd of creeping left-wing hegemony and jousting with reporters seeking him to pin him down on his more outspoken positions.
“The left has taken over virtually every major institution in this country,” Laxalt told a lunchtime audience at a local barbecue restaurant. “But what’s the institution that we still own? We can still get strong conservatives elected to go in and represent our values if we get me elected and take back the United States Senate.”
The candidate, one of two announced Republicans seeking to challenge first-term incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto next year, lumped academics, the media, big corporations and the “ruling elite” of both parties in Washington, D.C. who “want to radically transform this nation.”
“We’ve been warned about it for many, many years. And it’s time we take them at their word,” he said.
Laxalt, like Masto a former state attorney general, lost the 2018 governor’s race to Steve Sisolak. Another Republican, Sam Brown, is also seeking the GOP nomination to run against the Democrat.
Laxalt has focused during his campaign on culture-war topics such as critical race theory and the erosion of “traditional values” along with other issues resonant with social conservatives and Republicans, such as stricter immigration and border security, lower federal spending, and election integrity.
Laxalt filed unsuccessful challenges to 2020 election results in Nevada and maintains that Democrat-sponsored changes to balloting, such as universal mail-in voting, have undermined faith in elections.
On Friday, Laxalt acknowledged that Joe Biden was president of the United States but declined, when pressed by a reporter, to say whether he thought Biden was legitimately elected.
“I know you want to make this entire election about this. We have major issues going on in our country right now,” he said before turning to address another question.
Asked what he would do differently this year in his Senate race compared to his 2018 loss, Laxalt acknowledged that winning a Senate race “is a major effort, and you need to have an entire state that is motivated, excited and animated.”
“We know how to run a statewide race,” he continued. “Unfortunately in 2018 it was a blue year and it was a tough environment for us to win. But I’m a stronger candidate today we always learn from every experience in life.”
He disputed Cortez Masto’s claim to middle-of-the-road Democratic politics, saying she “continues to try to pretend like she’s a moderate, but she is not standing for Nevada and she does not stand against the left.”
“She is certainly not Joe Manchin,” he said, referring to the conservative Democratic senator from West Virginia, who he said was “bravely standing against this radical agenda,” including the $3.5 trillion “soft” infrastructure bill pushed by President Biden and now before Congress facing precarious odds.
Responding to Laxalt’s criticism, a spokesman for state Democrats cited Cortez Masto’s ranking during the 2019-21 Congress as the third most effective Senate Democrat by a congressional watch group from Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia.
The senator “has called to focus the upcoming budget bill on providing tax cuts for working families, which Adam Laxalt has opposed,” said Andy Orellana. Cortez Masto, he said, “crafted key parts of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that will deliver billions of dollars” to address Western wildfires and create jobs.
“But Laxalt opposed that bill, too,” he said.