Nevada U.S. Senate candidate Adam Laxalt attended a gala for Nevada Right to Life on May 5.
Nevada Republican Adam Laxalt has been endorsed by at least two prominent anti-abortion groups in his campaign for U.S. Senate. His campaign endorsements page omits any mention of this.
Laxalt was endorsed in April by Nevada Right to Life and National Right to Life, two organizations that work to prohibit abortion. "Adam Laxalt supports pro-life protections for unborn babies and their mothers," National Right to Life said in its endorsement.
But as of Thursday, the list of endorsements on his campaign website does not include either group.
He does boast of backing from former President Donald Trump; Donald Trump Jr.; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX); and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who accepted a pardon from Trump in late 2020 after pleading guilty to charges that he lied to the FBI. Laxalt also touts endorsements from the far-right organizations the American Conservative Union, the Senate Conservatives Fund, 60 Plus, Gun Owners of America, and the Club for Growth.
Laxalt has downplayed his opposition to abortion rights. His website's issue page identifies him as "pro-life" but makes no mention of his support for overturning Roe v. Wade and the reproductive rights it affirmed. Instead, it uses misleading and inflammatory terminology and says, "As Senator, Laxalt will stand against taxpayer funding for abortion. When elected, he will be a reliable vote against extreme Democrat proposals that would deny babies born alive healthcare or codify barbaric partial-birth abortion practices as federal law."
After the Republican Supreme Court majority's draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that would overturn Roe leaked earlier this month, Laxalt proclaimed it a "historic victory for the sanctity of life and the principles of democratic self-determination."
"After more than 50 years, that responsibility is poised to finally return to its rightful owners: the American people and their elected representatives," he wrote, before suggesting that it would not matter to Nevadans because they back choice: "The people of Nevada have already voted to make abortion rights legal in our state, and so no matter the Court's ultimate decision on Roe, it is currently settled law in our state."
But as Nevada's attorney general, Laxalt supported efforts in other states to roll back abortion rights. As an unsuccessful 2018 gubernatorial candidate, he promised to "look into" conducting a referendum on eliminating the state's abortion protections.
Voters in Nevada In 1990, Nevadans voted in a referendum to prevent the Legislature from restricting the right to abortion in the first or second trimester of a pregnancy by nearly a 2-1 landslide. But while Laxalt suggests that this makes the matter settled, Republicans nationally are reportedly already planning a push for a federal abortion ban that would supersede any state decision if the Republican-appointed Supreme Court majority overturns Roe.
On May 5, Laxalt tweeted out photos of himself taken that day at a gala for Nevada Right to Life and said, "I'm proud to have their endorsement and look forward to fighting for life as our state's next Senator."
Soon after, Laxalt deleted the tweet. Immediately after the Nevada Independent's Jon Ralston pointed out the deletion was "a perfect encapsulation of how GOP candidates are behaving with the Roe news," Laxalt reposted it.
The Laxalt campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.
There is a good reason why Laxalt may not want voters to realize how strongly he opposes abortion rights: Nevada is one of the most strongly pro-abortion rights states in the country.
A recent New York Times polling average put support in the state for abortion being "mostly legal" at 63%, with just 32% saying it should be "mostly illegal." Only six states and the District of Columbia have a larger pro-abortion rights majority.
Laxalt is widely considered the front-runner for the GOP nomination to challenge first-term Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. Cortez Masto is a strong supporter of reproductive rights and a co-sponsor of the Women's Health Protection Act, which would make the decision in Roe part of the United States Code.
In remarks delivered on the Senate on May 10, Cortez Masto said, "If we want our daughters to grow up with the same freedoms we have had for fifty years, we have to act. We need to stand up for women in America and trust them to make their own decisions about their health, their families, and their lives. I believe in American women, and I will fight for them."
Laxalt is not the only Republican trying to hide his unpopular abortion views as the Supreme Court prepares to undo nearly 50 years of precedent. In Pennsylvania, gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano's campaign had scrubbed anti-abortion language from its website ahead of that state's GOP primary on Tuesday.
Earlier this year, Laxalt removed all mention of his job as a partner at the conservative law firm Cooper & Kirk, PLLC, which promotes itself as the go-to firm for anyone who wants to sue the federal government. He earned millions of dollars in 2020 alone for his work at the firm, whose clients include fossil fuel corporations, large pharmaceutical companies, gun rights advocates, and state lawmakers working to block voting rights and Medicaid expansion.
Update, May 20, 2022: After this story's publication on Thursday, Laxalt's campaign updated its website to include the endorsements from Nevada Right to Life and National Right to Life.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.