Meet an anti-democracy Senate candidate: Adam Laxalt

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Nevada Republican Senate nominee Adam Laxalt spearheaded a failed attempt to overturn President Joe Biden's 2020 presidential victory in the state.

Nevada Republican Senate nominee Adam Laxalt, who thinks it is too easy to vote in his state, led the charge to overturn its 2020 presidential election results.

Laxalt, a former state attorney general and Nevada co-chair of former President Donald Trump's failed reelection campaign, is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in the midterm election ending on Nov. 8.

Cortez Masto, a strong supporter of voting rights and legislation to strengthen American democracy, was an original co-sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment to get corporate and dark money out of politics and of the For the People Act, a Democratic proposal to ensure the right to vote, strengthen election security, tighten ethics laws, and boost transparency in the campaign finance system.

"Protecting our democracy should be a bipartisan priority, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to work together and pass these reforms." Cortez Masto said in a March 2021 press release.

A spokesperson for Laxalt did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story, but his record reveals his opposition to voting rights and his efforts to subvert democracy.

Against democracy reform

Laxalt opposes the For the People Act, which passed the House in March 2021 but was held up by the Republican minority in the Senate.

A section on Laxalt's campaign site about "election integrity" says, "He would oppose any further Democrat attempts to pass HR1 and make elections less secure."

On Jan. 19, Laxalt suggested that voters do not care about preserving democracy, tweeting that Americans care about inflation, education, public safety, and gasoline prices, but that Democrats' priority is to "bypass the filibuster to pass a federal takeover of elections."

"@SenCortezMasto & her Democrat colleagues are completely out of touch. We must defeat them in November," he wrote.

Voting should be harder

Like many Republicans, Laxalt has baselessly claimed that voter impersonation fraud is a large problem in American elections and that strict voter identification laws are needed to combat it. Experts say that such strict photo identification requirements are designed to suppress voter turnout, especially for voters of color, who often lack the required government-issued forms of ID.

"The majority of Americans support Voter ID. I agree. RT if you agree too," he tweeted on Feb. 4.

"Voter ID doesn't suppress anyone's vote," he falsely claimed on Jan 13. "It protects it."

In September 2021, Laxalt circulated a link to an "election integrity survey" on his campaign website supposedly to gauge support for a Nevada voter ID law — a ploy to collect email address and cell phone numbers for his campaign mailing lists — writing on Twitter, "The Democrats and radical left across the country are trying to make it easier to cheat in future elections and that includes hurting our election security."

His issues page says that Laxalt will be a "fierce advocate" not just for voter ID laws, but for stopping "universal mail out voting, ballot harvesting and ballot drop boxes." Mailing out applications or ballots and providing drop boxes are methods used to make it easier for citizens to cast their ballots early.

In February, according to the Reno Gazette Journal, Laxalt told voters in Henderson that he wanted to do away with mail-in voting and drop boxes entirely: "Those are not safe methods of voting, and for saying just that — and those are uncontroversial statements — I’m on Morning Joe this morning, and they’re attacking me."

A July 2022 Associated Press national survey of state election officials found no evidence of widespread problems with drop boxes and no cases of theft or fraud that could have impacted election results.

Spreading the "big lie"

In October 2019, Laxalt announced that he would be one of Trump's Nevada campaign co-chairs, tweeting: "All Democrat alternatives are far too liberal for our state. ⁦@realDonaldTrump⁩ is the clear choice ⁦4NV."

Trump had lost Nevada in 2016 to Hillary Clinton 47.92%-45.5%, and early polls of the 2020 race showed he faced an uphill battle against Democrat Joe Biden. So Laxalt began suggesting the election in the state was being rigged, months before voting began.

In May 2020, Trump falsely accused Nevada of violating the law by deciding to send out vote-by-mail ballots to citizens during the pandemic, threatening to retaliate against the state by holding up its federal funding. Laxalt defended Trump, telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal, "At a time when thousands of ballots are turning up in apartments and trash cans because of the shady Democratic shenanigans, it is rich that it takes a president's tweet to bring focus to the real risk of voter fraud."

Laxalt's Morning in Nevada political action committee began running Facebook ads that falsely claimed: "The Democratic Party wants to rig our elections by forcing all voters to vote by mail. Vote by mail WILL lead to fraud."

That October, he tweeted, "Unclean voter rolls + significantly relaxed signature requirements + very lax ballot harvesting rules = a 'Wild Wild West' election in Nevada, a swing state that was decided by 25K votes in 2016."

Trump, who lost nationally by a 306-232 Electoral College margin, was defeated in Nevada by Biden 50.1%-47.7%.

Rather than accept their defeat, Laxalt and his team immediately began filing a series of unsuccessful lawsuits trying to overturn the result. He asserted without evidence that there was "ongoing voter fraud and voter disenfranchisement in Clark County" and alleged widespread cheating.

Nevada's Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske found no "evidentiary support" of widespread fraud in the state's 2020 election.

Still, as of October 2021, Laxalt was still refusing to concede that Biden was legitimately elected, telling a reporter only that Biden was the current president and saying: "I know you want to make this entire election about this. We have major issues going on in our country right now."

Defending the insurrectionists

On Jan. 6, 2021, thousands of pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol and successfully delayed the certification of Biden's Electoral College win. They did millions of dollars' worth of damage to public property and their actions resulted in the deaths of law enforcement officers.

More than 900 of the attackers have been charged with crimes. But Laxalt has minimized the events and told the Associated Press in February that "very few" of the insurrectionists deserved to be prosecuted.

"This day was not the darkest day in American history, not even close," he told the news outlet. "What the media and their left wing allies have done to weaponize this against Republicans and Trump voters is reprehensible. This issue is not in the top 100 of issues that matter to ordinary Nevadans. Voters will not be fooled by this in November 2022."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.