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PARTY LINES: A lot of distancing in Laxalt-Brown debate

You had to wake up early on Monday to catch the debate between former Attorney General Adam Laxalt and former Army Capt. Sam Brown on “Nevada Newsmakers.” It was livestreamed at 8 a.m. (You can watch the whole thing here.)

Two things stood out during that exchange: First, Laxalt’s distancing himself from the failed lawsuits filed by the Donald Trump campaign alleging voter fraud in the 2020 election, and second, Laxalt’s distancing himself from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

When Brown blamed Laxalt for the failure of election fraud lawsuits, Laxalt made clear he was not responsible.

“I was not in charge of any lawsuits,” Laxalt said. “I was a co-chair of the campaign. I was not in charge of litigation. That was the Trump campaign. They hired lawyers. They filed the lawsuits.”

Indeed, Laxalt only filed one lawsuit under his own name, accusing the state of failing to prevent non-citizens from registering to vote. That lawsuit was later dropped.

But Laxalt did show up a lot to promote claims of voter fraud. He was the lead speaker at a November 2020 news conference to announce that “we” were filing a lawsuit to stop the counting of allegedly illegal votes. (That action was rejected.) And he showed up on Fox News and Tucker Carlson’s show to repeat claims of voter fraud.

Laxalt’s denial of responsibility did give Brown his best line of the debate: “At the end of the day, this is about, once again, Nevadans deserve better,” Brown said. “And we’re not going to settle for people who blame everyone else when they fail. If you don’t want to be in a position of leadership where you shoulder the burden of executing or failure, you don’t have to pursue it.”

At press time, Laxalt was still pursuing it.

The other notable moment came when host Sam Shad asked both candidates if they’d vote for McConnell for majority or minority leader of the Senate. It’s a double-edged question, since many in the Republican base think McConnell — who has publicly feuded with Trump — isn’t conservative enough.

Both candidates dodged the question. Laxalt said – three times! – “I would vote for the most conservative person that ran for leader.”

As Shad noted, that doesn’t necessarily preclude a vote for McConnell, but it’s certainly not a commitment, either.

Laxalt could have done something different, however, knowing that he was urged to run by McConnell, that McConnell worked to recruit Laxalt to run and that an ex-McConnell staffer is one of Laxalt’s consultants.

Instead of dodging, Laxalt could have steered into the skid, and said something like this: “Mitch McConnell is backing my campaign because he knows how to win. He’s an excellent leader, and his work has given us the conservative justices that have accomplished what five decades of other Republicans could not, the overturning of Roe v. Wade. So hell, yeah, I’m going to vote for him, because if we take the majority, but especially if we don’t, we need a leader who knows how to fight and how to win. And that’s McConnell.”


My bad. Mea culpa. I’m sorry.

Two little words, that can solve a lot of problems.

That was an option for Republican attorney general candidate Sigal Chattah, who we reported last week erroneously said during a TV debate that Nevada’s abortion protections were “embedded in the (state) constitution.”

They aren’t: State law protects abortion rights in Nevada, a statute that was subject to referendum and cannot be changed, except by another vote of the people.

Instead of simply correcting her mistake, Chattah took to Twitter on May 8 to imply we were wrong. She dodged and weaved through several tweets before finally saying that what she meant to say was that the procedure for referenda was located in the constitution.

Which it is, but that’s irrelevant, because that’s not what she said on TV.

Finally, by Tuesday, Chattah issued a statement “clarifying” her position.

“Question 7 didn’t embed the right to terminate a pregnancy in the Constitution. And it didn’t embed the Nevada law protecting the right to terminate a pregnancy in the Constitution. What it did was constitutionally prohibit the Legislature from changing the law,” her statement reads. “In hindsight, I should have been clearer on that point in my answer to the debate question. I know some will think it’s a difference without a distinction, but I wanted to clarify what I meant from a legal perspective.”

When you make a mistake, the easiest and best (but sometimes hardest) thing to do is simply admit it, say I’m sorry, and move on.

Assembly caucus issues endorsements

The Nevada Assembly Republican Caucus has issued its list of endorsements, backing all of its returning members. In addition, the group is supporting Alan Hedrick in Assembly District 5, Flemming Larson in District 12, Dr. John Petrick in District 21, Danielle Gallant in District 23, Rhonda Knightly in District 29, Bert Gurr in District 33, Tiffany Jones in District 35 and Blayne Osborn in District 39.

Speaking of endorsements

The Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers and the Nevada Law Enforcement Coalition have thrown their support behind incumbent Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford. And the Service Employees International Union Local 1107 has endorsed all three incumbent Democratic Clark County commissioners: Jim Gibson, Justin Jones and Tick Segerblom.

New/old idea

State treasurer candidate Manny Kess says he wants an inspector general to audit education funding in Nevada. The IG would be housed in the treasurer’s office (of course) and would be appointed for four years to look exclusively at school funding.

The idea of a Nevada inspector general has been floated in several past legislative sessions by both Republicans and Democrats, to no avail. In the federal government, inspectors general work in various cabinet departments and agencies to conduct audits and performance reviews, and to identify unlawful activities.

But since this is Nevada and there are never any problems with spending or unlawful activities, who needs an IG, right, Nevada Legislature?

Candidates’ forum

The North Las Vegas Alliance of Concerned Citizens and Sun City Aliante are sponsoring a candidates’ meet-and-greet from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on May 24 at the Sun City Aliante Community Center. Organizers say 30 candidates from a variety of races are expected.

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.

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