There are a lot of eyes on Nevada Tuesday as a Senate race and a race for governor are attracting a lot of attention. Republicans are battling to take on Democratic incumbents in the November midterm election.
Former President Donald Trump has backed former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt for the U.S. Senate and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo for governor. Just how well they do on Tuesday will gauge the potency of a Trump endorsement, which has delivered mixed results this midterm campaign season.
Laxalt's political pedigree has helped make him a front-runner. His grandfather Paul Laxalt was a Nevada governor and senator. And Laxalt’s father is late U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, who publicly acknowledged his paternity for the first time in 2013. Besides Trump, Laxalt also has the endorsement of much of Washington's GOP establishment as he seeks to run in November against first-term Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who is considered among the most vulnerable senators.
But Laxalt, who was largely raised near Washington, D.C., and served as a judge advocate general in the Navy, has faced a stronger than anticipated challenge.
Retired Army Capt. Sam Brown, a West Point graduate and Purple Heart recipient who was badly burned in Afghanistan, is running as a conservative outsider. He has drawn crowds and has won the support of those who view Laxalt as too cozy with the establishment. He also has the endorsement of the Nevada Republican Party.
In the governor's race, Lombardo, the head of the Las Vegas Police Department, is hoping to face Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak in November. But first he has to get past a Republican primary challenge from former U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Joey Gilbert, a lawyer and former boxer, who was outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Beyond the marquee races, the state's Republican primary for secretary of state will also offer a measure of Trump's enduring grip on the GOP.
Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, is leaving office because of term limit laws. In 2020, she refused to cave to Trump's pressure campaign to overturn his defeat in the state's presidential election, vowing she would not “put my thumb on the scale of democracy.”
Six Republicans are vying for the seat, including Jim Marchant, a former state lawmaker who has embraced Trump's lies about widespread voter fraud in the state. His website makes his position abundantly clear: My “number one priority will be to overhaul the fraudulent election system in Nevada."
Democrats have united behind secretary of state candidate Cisco Aguilar, an attorney who previously worked for Harry Reid, the former Democratic Senate leader who died last year.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.