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Adam Laxalt is no Paul Laxalt (opinion)


Submitted by Martin Griffith

As a retired Reno newsman who covered Paul Laxalt during the height of his power as a U.S. senator in the 1980s, I would like to share some observations relevant to the Senate race between his grandson Adam Laxalt and Catherine Cortez Masto.

Paul Laxalt, a conservative Republican known as President Ronald Reagan’s “first friend,” counted Democrats among his friends and worked both sides of the aisle to forge legislation in Congress. He reflected the relatively moderate politics of the day, and saw life in more grays and far fewer blacks and whites.

His campaign signs featured the slogan “One of Us.” The son of a Basque immigrant shepherd, he was raised in Carson City, and exposed to people of all political stripes at his mother’s boarding house. He attended public schools and developed a relationship with Reagan when they were governors of neighboring states in the late 1960s.

Adam Laxalt was raised in Alexandria, Virginia, and attended a private college preparatory school there. He began living full-time in Nevada in 2011 and was elected to a term as state attorney general in 2014 with support from former Reagan administration figures loyal to Paul Laxalt. Compared with his grandfather, he’s an ultra-conservative who sees the world in black and white.

Among other actions, he joined Republican attorneys general in other states by signing Nevada onto lawsuits supporting abortion restrictions and by opposing a multi-state investigation into ExxonMobile’s alleged role in downplaying climate change.

Paul Laxalt was no fan of corporations and had an ability to disagree without being disagreeable. Though they split on many policy issues, Democrat Harry Reid viewed him as a man of utmost integrity in the Senate. “If Ronald Reagan needed honest advice, he went to Paul,” Reid told the New York Times.

Conversely, Adam Laxalt wears it as a badge of honor that he was one of the earliest and strongest supporters of The Big Lie — that the 2020 election was stolen from President Donald Trump. As co-chair of Trump’s Nevada campaign, he led efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state with groundless lawsuits and bogus claims of voter fraud debunked by Nevada’s top election official, a fellow Republican. He thinks those who participated in the Jan. 6 riots to block the peaceful transfer of power are patriots.

Adam Laxalt and Trump have plumbed new depths in American politics with lies that have fueled an attack on democracy and rising fears of political violence. They should not be rewarded with Nevada’s Senate seat, but they will win if Democrats are no-shows in the election like for the 2014 mid-terms when Laxalt narrowly captured the attorney general’s race.

Adam Laxalt says he supports Christian values, but he should heed what the Bible says matters most to God: love, character and honesty. He should consider the seven “things” in Proverbs 6: 16-19 that God finds “detestable”: “haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”

The passage offers wise guidance to voters in Nevada’s Senate race.

Martin Griffith was a political and legislative reporter for the Reno Gazette-Journal from 1979 to 1984, and an Associated Press newsman in Reno from 1985 to 2015.

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