November can be a difficult month to have a big family, what with the pre-holiday quarreling over the dinner menu and the main-event arguing over the table at the holidays themselves. But Adam Laxalt, the Republican candidate for Senate in Nevada, is re-learning that lesson in a very public way ahead of the midterms: This week, 14 of his family members wrote that they would endorse his Democratic opponent, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, in the coming election.
The family members, including multiple aunts and cousins, did not lambast Laxalt, but praised the incumbent for her record and “what we like to call ‘Nevada grit.’” And while they do not name their Senate-seeking family member, there are a few subtle jabs Laxalt will be able to pick up on. The letter says Masto’s career “is not a simple ‘sound-bite’ that merely speaks of supporting Nevada” and begins with the seemingly innocuous, “We are a proud Nevada Laxalt family.” But in a past letter endorsing the Democrat — written in 2018, when Laxalt unsuccessfully ran for governor — the same family members suggested he was a carpetbagger taking advantage of the name of the storied political family when he moved back to win the state attorney general seat in 2014. “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, D.C., and moved here only in 2013, only one year later launching his political career,” they wrote in 2018. “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.”
In a polarized time, letters like these aren’t totally uncommon: In the three House elections since 2018, the siblings of Arizona Representative Paul Gosar have recorded ads and endorsed the challenger to the far-right Freedom Caucus member. Nor is Laxalt, the grandson of the late Republican senator and governor Paul Laxalt and the formerly unrecognized son of Senator Pete Domenici, without family allies. In 2018, 22 members of the family, including his father and brother, wrote to the Reno Journal-Gazette to highlight Laxalt’s military service and defend the conservative values of his grandfather — though his efforts to contest the 2020 election may have been unrecognizable to the late senator.
And while the Republican wing of the family hasn’t responded just yet to the latest letter, Laxalt himself tweeted that many of the family members who endorsed Masto are Democrats who “think that Nevada & our country are heading in the right direction. I believe Nevadans don’t agree.”