RENO — The race for Nevada attorney general officially turned competitive Tuesday with the announcement by former federal prosecutor Adam Laxalt that he will run as a Republican for the top law enforcement job in the state.
Laxalt, 34, will face Democrat Ross Miller, who is Nevada’s secretary of state.
In a nine-minute speech to about 70 attendees at the Republican Men’s Club of Northern Nevada, Laxalt said he would work as attorney general to protect Nevadans in the face of an unprecedented federal intrusion into people’s lives.
“In today’s political climate we are experiencing an unprecedented overreach from the federal government and a complete disregard for constitutional limits on power and the rule of law,” he said. “It’s because of this environment that you need an active and passionate attorney general to represent you and to protect this state.”
Nevada must remain the free Western state it has always been, Laxalt said.
He specifically pointed to Obamacare as the prime example of that federal overreach, describing it as “miserably unpopular” in Nevada.
Laxalt, a member of a pioneering Nevada family and grandson of former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt, served in the Navy and spent time in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In his remarks, Laxalt took the opportunity to recall his grandfather’s early support of Ronald Reagan’s presidential ambitions which came to fruition in 1980. Reagan’s election ushered in a new era of freedom and liberty, he said.
“I am running for attorney general because we are again at these crossroads,” Laxalt said. “America has been weakened by bad ideas, and our democracy’s temptation to toy with those bad ideas.
“This is exacerbated by the quality of people we have in elected office. The type of people that believe in survival and polling, not in leadership. It’s time for accountability. It’s time for real leadership.”
In response to questions after his announcement, Laxalt acknowledged Miller has had a huge head start in campaign fundraising, but said there is plenty of time until the November general election.
Laxalt said he has not yet begun to fund raise. Miller reported collecting about $900,000 for his campaign so far.
Laxalt, born in Reno, only returned to Nevada to reside full time in 20111. Law school and his military service kept him from returning sooner, he said. Laxalt has taken a leave of absence from his position as an attorney at the Lewis Roca Rothgerber law firm to pursue his campaign.
Miller, who was attending a meeting of the Board of Examiners on Monday, welcomed Laxalt to the race. But Miller emphasized he is the longtime Nevadan.
“From what I understand he has been in the state only a short time,” said Miller, a lifetime resident except for his college years and time as a White House intern.
He noted he already has a lot of support from Republicans, including several members of Laxalt’s family.
“Let’s have a spirited campaign,” Miller said.
GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval, who is running for a second term as governor, said he is endorsing Laxalt.
“He has a good legal background,” Sandoval said. “He has good leadership qualities.”
Sandoval, who is a former attorney general, said he has met Laxalt but does not have a long-term relationship with him.
Laxalt is a former lieutenant in the Navy. Trained by the Navy as a prosecutor and legal adviser, he served as a judge advocate general for five years.
He graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University and also graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center. Laxalt and his wife, Jaime, live in Henderson with their daughter, Sophia, and their dogs, Hoya and Buckley.
Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel contributed to this report. Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.