Adam Laxalt has the backing of some powerful people in his quest to become the next Nevada attorney general, but he also had some challenges early in his life.
Laxalt, 35, announced his Republican candidacy for the job in Reno on Tuesday. His opponent is Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller. It is Laxalt’s first run for public office.
Laxalt freely acknowledged last week that he had a drinking problem in his teens, a problem that he conquered with the support of his family.
“I was raised by a single mom as I said before and as a teenager, had my years where I started getting out of control and drinking too much and getting into trouble and got onto the wrong path,” he said.
But with the help of his mother, Michelle Laxalt, and his grandparents, Laxalt said he got treatment and has maintained his sobriety since age 19.
“And my life pivoted dramatically,” Laxalt said.
Laxalt went on to get a law degree and serve in the Navy as a lieutenant. He spent time in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and most recently has worked as an attorney in Las Vegas.
He lives with his wife and daughter in Henderson.
Laxalt, a member of a pioneering Nevada family, also has some heavy hitters backing his campaign, including his grandfather, former Nevada Gov. and U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt, and his father, former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.
The relationship made headlines last year when his mother and Domenici revealed the Domenici was Adam Laxalt’s father — a secret his mother kept from her family, including her father, Paul Laxalt.
“My father is supporting me,” Laxalt said. “He loves me and supports me and I love him as well.”
Of the relationship, Laxalt said: “I don’t think it is anything Nevadans care about. They care about what I’m going to do as attorney general. And one thing I want to do is make sure I’m there to protect Nevada’s families.”
Gov. Brian Sandoval, who is running for a second term as governor, has endorsed Laxalt’s candidacy as well.
Laxalt’s opponent also comes from a well-known Nevada family. Miller’s father, Bob Miller, also a Democrat, served as governor in Nevada for 10 years from 1989 to 1999.
— Sean Whaley
MARSHALL GETS SOME GOP PRAISE
You never will see a scene in partisan Congress like you saw Tuesday in the state Capitol during the Board of Finance meeting. Here was Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval profusely praising Democratic state Treasurer Kate Marshall, an announced candidate for secretary of state.
“Credit should go to where credit is due,” the governor said after the meeting.
Marshall has saved state taxpayers $72 million in the past two years by refinancing more than $1.2 billion in state debts. With bond interest rates falling to 1 percent and lower, she and her staff have been issuing new bonds to pay off existing bonds and secure much lower interest rates on the debts.
This refunding or refinancing included a $575 million bond sale to pay off a loan the state owed to the U.S. Department of Labor. The loan was needed so Nevada could continue paying unemployment benefits during the recession. That refinancing alone saved business owners in Nevada $24 million.
In an interview, Marshall noted she did the refinancing as part of her job as state treasurer over the past two years, not as a candidate for secretary of state. She said she won’t even file for secretary of state until March. State Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, is her likely opponent.
Marshall added that Sandoval had requested a report on the effects of refunding, so she should not be accused of trying to draw special attention to her own accomplishments.
— Ed Vogel
RORY, AMY ON THE AIR
“What’s Your Point?”
How many times do you ask that when debating the issues of the day, especially when it comes to politics?
“What’s Your Point?” is the title of a new 30-minute political show KSNV-TV, Channel 3 is launching in Las Vegas with Democrat Rory Reid on one side and Republican Amy Tarkanian on the other.
Reid, a former Clark County Commission chairman, lost the 2010 governor’s race to Brian Sandoval, a Republican. Reid also is the son of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. The younger Reid insists he’s not going to run for public office again, but being on a political talk show raises his profile and keeps his name in the news.
Tarkanian is the former chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party. She’s also married to Danny Tarkanian, who lost a string of tough electoral races, including for the 4th Congressional District seat in 2012.
The show will air weekdays at 12:30 p.m. beginning Feb. 10, according to Channel 3.
— Laura Myers
CHANGING TACK ON EXCHANGE
Conservative activist Sharron Angle considered filing a petition Tuesday to repeal the 2011 state law that created the Silver State Insurance Exchange, the organization under which Nevadans sign up for Obamacare, according to a top aide who requested anonymity.
Such a petition could abolish the exchange following the November election if it won voter approval.
But it would have included at least 50 references to Nevada law, been very long and easy to challenge in court, the aide said. Consequently, Angle decided to circulate a different kind of petition that would make it unconstitutional to establish insurance exchanges.
Under this petition, the insurance exchange could not be abolished before the end of 2016. Still, he said, a constitutional amendment brings a more permanent solution, blocking the establishment of insurance exchanges forever unless the public reverses itself in future elections.
Angle needs to collect 101,667 signatures by June 17 to put her petition on the November ballot.
— Ed Vogel
GOP LOSING ASSEMBLYMAN
Republican Assemblyman Pete Livermore, who has represented Carson City and southern Washoe County in the Legislature for two sessions, said last week he is not seeking re-election.
The loss of a Livermore candidacy is just one more challenge for the Assembly Republican Caucus, which is working to expand its 15-seat minority in the 2014 general election. Democrats now hold a strong 27-seat majority.
While Livermore’s Assembly District 40 is heavily Republican in registered voters, its residents don’t always vote party line. Prior to Livermore’s election to the seat, a Democrat, Bonnie Parnell, represented the community in the Assembly.
Livermore said the number of political events he must attend, along with constituent demands, have just taken up too much of his time.
The job has also created a difficult balancing act with his fellow Republicans because the Assembly district includes many state workers who would like a raise, he said.
State employees have seen some prior pay cuts restored as the economy has improved, but there have been no cost-of-living increases in several years.
“I will still be involved in politics in Carson City,” Livermore said. “I would love to see us become the majority party. I will help work on that. I have no regrets.”
— Sean Whaley
MASTO: I’M NOT RUNNING
Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto made it more than clear Tuesday: She is not running for any political office this year.
Following a Board of Examiners meeting in Carson City, Masto said she will not run for lieutenant governor this year or for any other office.
“I have said it before and I say it again, I will not be a candidate for any office,” said Masto, who after two terms is prevented by a constitutional amendment from seeking a third term as attorney general.
She has been pestered repeatedly by reporters and others who speculate she will be induced by friends or drafted by the Democratic Party to run for lieutenant governor. No name Democrats have yet announced their candidacies for the position, but Republicans Sue Lowden and Mark Hutchison have already been campaigning.
Speculation has been that Hutchison, endorsed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, has to win or the governor would be blocked from leaving his office to seek a seat in the U.S. Senate in 2016.
Masto, a landslide winner in both her attorney general victories, would seem a formidable opponent to any Republican.
She is Hispanic and she gained prestige during the 2013 session by passing bills to stop sexual trafficking, particularly to prevent pimps from preying on young girls.
Masto’s father was the late Manny Cortez, a popular commissioner in Clark County for 15 years and head of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for 13 years. Early in her career, she was chief of staff for Gov. Bob Miller.
She announced last year that she would not run against Sandoval as he seeks re-election this fall to a second term.
— Ed Vogel
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801. Contact reporter Laura Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2919. Follow her on Twitter @lmyerslvrj. Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at email@example.com or 775-687-3901. Follow him on Twitter at @edisonvogel.