The polling website FiveThirtyEight puts the Republican challenger, Adam Laxalt, ahead of the incumbent Democrat, Catherine Cortez Masto, by less than one point. The contest could decide control of the 50-50 Senate next month.
On Wednesday, the Nevada Independent obtained a letter from 14 members of the Laxalt family.
“We believe that Catherine possesses a set of qualities that clearly speak of what we like to call ‘Nevada grit’,” the letter said, adding: “No further comments will be made, as we believe this letter speaks for itself.”
The letter did not mention Adam Laxalt, the Independent reported. Instead it praised Cortez Masto “on women’s issues, opposition to a proposed federal mining tax, public land preservation and her record as the state’s attorney general from 2007 to 2015”.
The Laxalt family has an exalted place in Nevada history, at least among Republicans. Adam Laxalt’s grandfather, Paul Laxalt, was governor between 1967 and 1971 and senator from 1974 to 1987. According to his New York Times obituary, he was “known to be firm in his conservatism but always courteous in conveying it”.
Times change, the Republican party is more abrasive than it was under Ronald Reagan, and members of the Laxalt family have opposed the senator’s grandson before. In 2018, when Adam Laxalt ran for governor, 12 family members wrote a column for the Reno Gazette Journal.
Gabriel Urza, Kevin Nomura, Amy Nomura Solaro, Alexandra Urza, Kevan Danielle Laxalt, Michelle Terese Laxalt, Peter Laxalt, Michelle Janet Laxalt, Dr Kevin Marie Laxalt, Dr Kristin Laxalt, Monique Laxalt and Meggan Laxalt Mackey said: “For those of us who were actually raised in Nevada, it’s difficult to hear him continue to falsely claim that he was raised in Nevada or has any true connections to Nevadans.
“The simple fact is that while he may have been born in Reno, he left as an infant and was raised on the east coast, 3,000 miles away, in Washington DC, and moved here only in 2013, only one year later launching his political career. Aside from the occasional short visit, Adam never knew the state or its people.
“Perhaps if he had, he would stand for Nevada’s values rather than for those of his out-of-state donors.”
They also questioned his qualifications (calling his law career “a train wreck”) and motivations for running for governor.
On Wednesday, Adam Laxalt responded to the new letter from his relations.
“It’s not surprising,” he said, “that once again a handful of family members and spouses, half of whom do not live in Nevada, and most of whom are Democrats, are supporting a Democrat. They think that Nevada and our country are heading in the right direction.
“I believe Nevadans don’t agree with the Biden/Masto agenda of high gas prices, soaring inflation, rising crime and an open border. I look forward to representing Nevadans in the US Senate in January.”
Four years ago, 22 other Laxalt family members – Suzanne Marie Laxalt, Therese Michelle Laxalt, Jackalyn Marlette Laxalt, John Paul Laxalt, Kevin Ross Laxalt, David Ross Laxalt, Ryan Burns, Melissa Burns, Mitch Burns, Corinne Burns, Mike Ferrari, Robert Ferrari, Audrey Ferrari, John Tom Ross, Thomas Ross, Cynthia Ross, James Strosnider, Tami Norcross-Bernard, Larry Bernard, Makenna Bernard, Jack Bernard and Michelle Dominique – replied to their relations, defending Adam Laxalt in their own contribution to the Reno Gazette Journal.
But he lost the election, by four points, to the Democratic candidate, Steve Sisolak.