When former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced he was running against Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in 2022, Senate Republicans landed the big fish they wanted to try to unseat potentially the chamber’s most vulnerable Democrat in 2022.
“The stakes are too high not to send [Masto] packing and to send Adam Laxalt to the United States Seante next year,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said at a Nevada event Sunday, before Laxalt even launched his campaign. He then teased an “exciting announcement” coming for Laxalt — who officially announced his Senate bid on Tuesday.
With the Senate split 50-50, the seat Masto, D-Nev., currently holds will be key for which party will take the Senate majority in 2022.
Republicans see Nevada as their ticket to put the brakes on President Biden’s agenda for the final two years of his term. And Laxalt believes that his support for former President Trump will help put him over the top in the state Republicans have had trouble winning for years.
NEVADA SENATE RACE: LAXALT LAUNCHES REPUBLICAN RUN IN STATE THAT IS TOP GOP 2022 TARGET
“I think exactly the opposite of what prognosticators may think. I think that President Trump performed very well in Nevada. He had, was far closer than Mitt Romney or John McCain,” Laxalt said. “There is no question that Trump’s America First agenda expanded our base in a way that no other Republican running for president in this state.”
Indeed, Trump came within three percentage points of winning Nevada in 2016 and 2020. Romney lost by almost seven percentage points in 2012 and McCain lost by even more in 2008.
“Unfortunately he fell just a bit short,” Laxalt continued, referencing Trump. “But we are heading into a red year… and as someone who was chair of the Trump campaign, we plan on holding the Trump coalition together. I strongly believe that independents and some of those that may not have swung with us in 2020, they are going to swing with us in 2022.”
Laxalt said dissatisfaction with President Biden’s foreign policy and handling of Afghanistan is one factor that might help bring independents on board. But he emphasized that energizing the GOP base, which overwhelmingly supports Trump, will be critical for Republicans to win a state that’s elected only one Republican in a statewide election since 2015.
“President Trump brought out more voters for a Republican presidential candidate than anyone ever has before,” Laxalt said. “And so it’s important that those voters are motivated to come out. In 2018 we were missing 100-plus thousand Trump voters that simply were not motivated to come out.”
Laxalt narrowly lost a run for governor in 2018. The only Republican to win statewide that year was Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.
“I believe that we are going to motivate our people to turnout,” Laxalt said of his chances in 2022.
Democrats are just as happy to tie Laxalt – the 2020 Trump campaign co-chairman in Nevada who led one of many failed election-related lawsuits on Trump’s behalf – to the former president as he is.
“There’s nothing Laxalt won’t do or say to benefit his special interest donors and allies, from his pay-to-play schemes as Attorney General to his lies about election fraud in 2020 and his efforts to overturn the election for Trump,” the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) said in a statement this week.
“Failed politician Adam Laxalt has a history of corruption and consistently uses his public position to work against Nevadans,” a spokesperson for Nevada Democratic Victory told Fox News. “As Attorney General, he used his office to benefit his special interest donors, and he became Donald Trump’s main lackey in Nevada by orchestrating bogus lawsuits to prop up the Big Lie and overturn the 2020 election. While Senator Cortez Masto is putting Nevadans first, Laxalt is only ever looking out for himself.”
Masto herself called Laxalt the “handpicked candidate” of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Laxalt, meanwhile, told Fox News that the reason he’s running for senate rather than another state-level office is because he’s seen national politics move in a direction he doesn’t like.
“Like many Nevadans I’ve watched over the last year to see America careen in the wrong direction,” he said. “I’ve seen the forces of the left all join together to cancel Nevadans, cancel Americans to impose a leftist ideology.”
Asked what kind of senator he would be, Laxalt said he would promote “America First” foreign policy, referencing the policies of former President Trump. He also said he will focus on confirming conservative federal judges and supporting police.
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But first, he will have to win what is likely to be a bruising and expensive race that is likely to draw nationwide attention.
“There’s no question that this seat can be the 51st seat,” Laxalt said. “This seat can be the ultimate block to the Biden administration agenda and the radical left agenda that seems to be driving my senator, Catherine Cortez Masto and President Biden.”
Fox News’ Robert Sherman contributed to this report.