“Are we going to turn into California?” GOP gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt likes to ask on the campaign trail, railing against the Golden State in stump speeches that wind up his base.
But when it comes to financing his campaign, Laxalt has turned readily to Nevada’s western neighbor, taking more than $500,000 in campaign contributions from interests in the state. That’s 10 percent of his total contributions and nearly $180,000 more than what his Democratic opponent, Steve Sisolak, has mined from “them thar hills.”
Outside Nevada, both candidates netted their biggest contributions from California. Sisolak has more individual contributions from there — just fewer than 500 for a total of $337,384, or about $677 on average. Compare that to Laxalt’s Cali-haul: 187 contributions for $515,075, or $2,754 on average.
Those figures are among the findings in a line-by-line analysis of each candidates’ 2018 campaign contributions covering three filing periods from Jan. 1 through Oct. 12. The candidates raised a combined $11 million in that period and will file their last pre-election financial disclosures Friday.
Parker Briden, a Laxalt spokesman, said the candidate’s out-of-state contributors see the Nevada election as an important swing-state race and are motivated by a desire “to preserve Nevada’s unique, freedom-loving identity and not let it go the way of California.”
California donors, he said, “usually share horror stories of the fringe-left policies in that state, like high taxes, straw bans and ridiculous regulations.”
The National Institute on Money in Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit clearinghouse of nationwide campaign finance data, has seen an uptick in interstate funding of state races, “in large part because of the ease of soliciting those donations via the internet,” said Managing Director Denise Roth Barber. She said the research group, which gathers data from state and federal agencies and makes it available online in searchable form, planned to look closer at the trend when more data are in.
Barber added that out-of-state interests might be more involved in this year’s races because officeholders elected this year will control census-based, state-by-state redistricting efforts in 2020.
Additional findings on contributions in the governor’s race:
■ Totals and averages: Laxalt reported 4,262 itemized contributions totaling about $5.09 million. His overall take for the year, including in-kind contributions, was about $5.2 million. Sisolak had 4,976 listed contributions totaling $5.4 million. His 2018 take was $5.96 million. Laxalt averaged about $1,200 per itemized contribution and Sisolak $100 less.
■ Big spenders: Laxalt reported 486 contributions of $5,000 or more totaling $3.5 million. Sisolak had 561 contributions of $5,000 or more totaling $3.96 million. That’s an average of $7,237 for Laxalt and $7,067 for Sisolak.
■ Small fry: Sisolak gets to claim “most small donor” honors. Laxalt had 921 contributions of $25 or less totaling $17,604 — almost an Andrew Jackson, or about $19, on average. Sisolak drew 2,204 such contributions totaling $23,257, an average closer to an Alexander Hamilton, $10.55.
■ In and out of state: Nearly $3.76 million of Laxalt’s itemized contributions came from within Nevada, 74 percent of his total. The same figures for Sisolak were $4.3 million and 80 percent.
■ Top Nevada cities: Las Vegas, predictably, was the top-giving city to both candidates. Almost exactly half of Laxalt’s Nevada take came from Las Vegas, about $1.9 million. For Laxalt, largesse from Reno, Henderson, the Lake Tahoe community of Incline Village and Sparks followed, in that order.
Sisolak, who chairs the Clark County Commission, got three-quarters of his in-state funding from Las Vegas, $3.3 million. After that came Henderson, Reno, Carson City and Sparks.
■ Top ZIP codes: Laxalt’s biggest take for a single ZIP code came in the 89135 area of northwest Las Vegas, which includes Summerlin South. The area had a median income of $84,700 in 2016, according to census data. Laxalt raised just over $287,000 there. Three of Laxalt’s top 10 ZIP codes were in Northern Nevada — two in Reno and one in Incline Village.
The single most generous ZIP code for Sisolak was 89101 — downtown Las Vegas — where he raised nearly $296,000. The 2016 median income was just $23,500, but the area is heavy with offices and businesses. All of Sisolak’s other top 10 ZIP codes were in the Las Vegas-Henderson area.
■ Top addresses: A few single addresses stood out. Laxalt received $200,000 from 20 business entities, most of them title companies. They gave $10,000 each at a July 13 event. All are associated with Bill Foley, who owns the Vegas Golden Knights and is chairman of Fidelity National Financial Services. Another $130,000 came Aug. 30 from the Henderson offices of investor Dennis Troesh.
For Sisolak, the address that sent the most money was a post office box for MGM Resorts International. Jim Murren, MGM’s chairman and CEO, is a Republican who crossed party lines to back Hillary Clinton in 2016. Business entities using that address contributed $240,000. And $72,000 came from a downtown Las Vegas office building at South 4th Street that houses investment firms and lawyers, including criminal defense attorney David Chesnoff.
■ Far-flung contributions: Laxalt received contributions from 42 states and the District of Columbia, with two of those states generating less than $100 each. His farthest-off contributions, as the crow flies, came from Hawaii, where he raised $8,555 from four donors.
Sisolak listed contributions from every state except West Virginia, although contributions from 11 states amounted to less than $100 each. He also received a pair of $10 donations from overseas, one from Tokyo and the other from London, as well as $49 from five donors in Canada.