Adam Laxalt coasted to victory on Tuesday, fulfilling predictions that the well-funded Republican attorney general would dominate in the primaries over Treasurer Dan Schwartz, bike shop owner Jared Fisher and others.
Laxalt’s campaign was buoyed by an Election Day endorsement from President Donald Trump, who tweeted that Laxalt “is smart, works hard, and knows how to win. He will be a great Governor. Also, will fight hard to lower your taxes and is tough on crime!”
In addition to Trump, Laxalt has endorsements from the anti-abortion rights group Nevada Right to Life and the National Rifle Association, both hot commodities in a Republican primary. He’s raised millions and counts support from uber-wealthy casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, while his opponents have largely had to self-fund.
Laxalt, 39, is already a target of Democrats and allied groups including pro-abortion rights organization NARAL. They have lately tried to pin him to the woes of Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro, who’s been accused of sexual misconduct and whose endorsement Laxalt still notes on his website. Laxalt has said that his office is investigating Antinoro and that renouncing the endorsement before it’s concluded would “pre-judge” the inquiry, although critics of Antinoro have raised doubts about whether the attorney general is actually conducting a probe.
He’s also in the crossfire of the public employee union AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), which launched a TV ad criticizing Laxalt for his role in defending an insulin transparency bill passed by the Legislature in 2017.
Laxalt has positioned himself as a bastion against Democrats, who are all but guaranteed to control both houses of the Legislature in 2019, and the keeper of the “Nevada Dream” who can prevent the “Californication” of the state through higher taxes and regulations. He’s already promised not to raise taxes, and has expressed his desire to repeal Gov. Brian Sandoval’s Commerce Tax, although the logistics of getting a repeal on the ballot or reversing it through the Legislature make that a remote possibility.
A mid-April poll conducted by The Nevada Independent showed Laxalt ahead in the race by 55 points. Schwartz, a maverick who’s angered lawmakers on both sides of the aisle at one time or another, leaves open the possibility of raising taxes on the politically powerful gaming industry and has panned Sandoval initiatives including incentives for electric carmaker Faraday Future and public funding for the Las Vegas Raiders’ stadium, self-funded and failed to get serious institutional support.
Fisher, a political newcomer who owns bike shops and a tour company and has the campaign slogan of “A Healthy Nevada,” also failed to win establishment support.
After scoring an upset in 2014 to become attorney general, Laxalt used his office to battle what he described as the Obama administration’s federal overreach, suing against a program that would have expanded legal status to parents of DREAMers and against Obama’s effort to make more administrative workers eligible for overtime. In contrast to Sandoval, who’s a pro-choice Republican but has rarely touched abortion issues as governor, Laxalt has also weighed in on social issues, supporting Texas’ restrictions on abortion and measures to protect those who decline services to members of the LGBT community based on their religious beliefs.