Former Trump campaign co-chair who pushed election lies enters Nevada Senate race

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In his last failed campaign, the exiting GOP governor and members of his own family refused to back Adam Laxalt

Republican former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt filed papers on Sunday to run for U.S. Senate next year — hours after Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) announced Laxalt's run for him. Laxalt last made news for his bogus claims that former President Donald Trump really won in 2020.

Laxalt, who lost the governor's race in 2018 and co-chaired Trump's unsuccess 2020 reelection effort in Nevada, has not yet told voters that he plans to run.

But Cotton told Nevada conservatives on Saturday: "Adam, I guess he's not supposed to say that he’s going to be your next United States Senator. There's some campaign finance rules against it. But what do I care about some stupid rules like that? Adam Laxalt is going to the United States Senate for the Battle Born state in 2022."

Though he declined to confirm his candidacy at the event, Laxalt told the Federal Election Commission hours later that he would seek his party's nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in 2022.

As a 2020 Nevada co-chair for Trump, Laxalt filed a series of failed lawsuits aimed at throwing out votes and pushing false voter fraud claims. He helped push a debunked claim that about 3,000 votes were "improperly cast" by people who don't live in Nevada, though a huge portion of those the campaign accused of "criminal voter fraud" turned out to be Nevadans serving in the military and stationed in other states. Biden won Nevada by more than 33,000 votes.

After being elected attorney general in 2014, Laxalt spent his sole term in office advancing a right-wing agenda and standing up for his top donors.

According to a February 2017 Nevada Independent report, the state's Gaming Control Board chair gave the FBI a recording of a conversation he had taped in which Laxalt asked him to intervene on behalf of the late GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson in a court case. Adelson, a billionaire casino mogul, was Laxalt's biggest donor. Though the FBI said Laxalt committed no crime, Brennan Center for Justice Fellow Ian Vandewalker observed that it illustrated the dangers of unregulated campaign finance.

Laxalt also repeatedly sought to undermine abortion rights. He filed briefs in support of a Texas abortion ban and California's anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, despite a 1990 Nevada referendum putting the state on record in support of reproductive choice. In 2018, he told a local television outlet that he would "look into" repealing Nevada's abortion rights protections, which his campaign later claimed that statement was "taken out of context."

In 2018, as the Republican nominee for governor, Laxalt campaigned as a "gun rights" advocate who took "particular pride" in his office's work to defend "the right of citizens to bear arms," which he called "sacred and non-negotiable."

In 2017, he compared a red flag proposal, which would allow law enforcement to temporarily disarm those adjudicated to be a danger to themselves or others, to something out of the 2002 film "Minority Report" in a speech to the National Rifle Association, though he would later back a similar proposal.

After a mass shooting at an October 2017 Las Vegas concert, he complained that "these type of incidents are used politically every time" to push more gun restrictions, and argued that no law could have prevented the deadly attacks.

He also worked in 2016 to block an investigation into whether ExxonMobil illegally misled the public about the dangers of climate change. Laxalt, who received significant funding from fossil fuel interests, claimed he was defending the company's free speech.

After receiving Trump's endorsement, Laxalt lost the 2018 governor's race to Democrat Steve Sisolak by more than 4% of the vote. Outgoing Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval refused to back Laxalt, telling the New York Times, "[I] won't support a candidate that is going to undo anything that I put forward."

In an October 2018 op-ed, 12 members of Laxalt's own family opposed his candidacy, accusing him of "a lack of real, authentic connection to our state, and a failure to understand what is important to real Nevadans" and "a servitude to donors and out-of-state interests that puts their concerns ahead of real Nevadans'."

The 2022 race in the slightly blue-leaning swing state could determine control of the Senate. Democrats currently enjoy a 51-50 majority, but only with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris breaking ties.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.