by April Corbin Girnus, Nevada Current
With poll after poll showing her in a dead heat with Republican Adam Laxalt, Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto went on the offensive Thursday, holding a campaign event to highlight her challenger’s connection to election denialism and the Jan. 6 insurrection that resulted in the deaths of five police officers.
“(Laxalt) has an extreme agenda that he is trying to hide and play safe,” said Cortez Masto, who is considered one of the most vulnerable senators up for reelection this year. “He can’t do it because I’m not going to let him.”
Her remarks come days before Laxalt is scheduled to appear at a rally in Minden, Nev. with former President Donald Trump. As state co-chair of Trump’s reelection campaign in 2020, Laxalt was front and center in Nevada pushing the Big Lie — the false claim that widespread voter fraud occurred and influenced the outcome of elections.
That conspiracy theory “absolutely fueled” the mob that stormed the capital building on Jan. 6, 2021 in hopes of disrupting the procedural process of accepting certified election results from all states, said Cortez Masto, who characterized the event a danger to democracy.
“He’s continuing to do it. Already (he’s) calling out if he loses it’s because there’s wholesale election fraud in this state,” she went on, referring to comments Laxalt has made to conservative media about preparing for election lawsuits early.
“Also then (he’s) going into a rural community that he knows is predominantly conservative and saying, ‘Oh, but your votes are okay. It’s just down in those urban areas.’ He continues to pedal conspiracies and lies. It is dangerous and people see it.”
The Jan. 6 insurrection contributed to the deaths of five capitol police officers and four people in the crowd. One officer, Brian Sicknick, was physically attacked by the mob. Four other officers died by suicide in the days and weeks after. Dozens of other officers were injured.
“He said nothing,” said Cortez Masto of Laxalt. “Five police officers died. And Adam Laxalt said nothing.”
Laxalt, like many Trump-aligned Republicans, laid low publicly in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Laxalt paused from posting on social media for the better half of a year before emerging to promote his annual Basque Fry event, which featured other Trump loyalists.
“Laxalt could not bring himself to show an ounce of remorse for his actions,” said Cortez Masto. “It is unforgivable and Nevada will not forget his actions.”
Laxalt, whose campaign routinely refuses to respond to requests for comment from the Current and other news organizations, told The Associated Press in February of this year that “Democrats and the media are embracing exaggerated and inaccurate accounts of the attack and using them as political weapons.” He referenced a comment House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made wherein she called the insurrection “the darkest day in American history.”
“(It’s) not even close,” he remarked.
Cortez Masto said his silence after the attack made her lose all respect for Laxalt, who, like her, is a former attorney general. Attorneys general are considered the state’s top law enforcement official.
Both Senate candidates have pushed themselves as pro-law enforcement. The Laxalt campaign this week launched an ad highlighting an endorsement by the Public Safety Alliance of Nevada (PSAN), which says it represents more than 10,000 law enforcement officers across 100 state and local unions and groups. Meanwhile, Cortez Masto’s campaign event Thursday highlighted her endorsement from the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers (NAPSO) and Nevada Law Enforcement Coalition (NLEC), which says it represents thousands of law enforcement officials across 19 different unions.
Several PSAN member organizations were a part of NAPSO in 2016. That year, they endorsed Cortez Masto over Republican Joe Heck.
Numerous polls have Cortez Masto and Laxalt neck and neck among likely voters. Meanwhile, a CNN poll released Thursday found Republicans are far more enthusiastic about voting in the upcoming election than Democrats.
Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: [email protected]. Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.