Guy W. Farmer: The Laxalt family feud
Would you believe me if I told you that several members of Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt’s family threw a fundraiser for his Democrat opponent, Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, in Reno late last month? Well, that just happens to be true and it illustrates the Laxalt family’s political version of the long-running TV show, “Family Feud.”
CNN reporter Kyung Lah supplied the details on the network’s website. According to Lah, the fundraiser was hosted by two of Adam Laxalt’s cousins, Kristin and Monique, and was attended by five additional members of the prominent Nevada family, ranging from aunts to cousins. A good friend of mine who attended the event confirmed Lah’s story and said Monique told the gathering that Adam doesn’t represent her family’s Nevada values. “Just because he carries our family’s name, that doesn’t mean he represents our values,” she declared.
“We believe he came from Washington to Nevada for the sole purpose of using the family name to pursue a political career that would allow him to return to Washington,” Monique continued. “We don’t believe he came to Nevada based on any true connection to or interest in our state.” Ouch!
I don’t think Adam did himself any favors with true blue Nevadans when he billed himself as Adam Paul Laxalt during his successful run for attorney general in 2014. It looked like he was piggybacking on the name of his very famous and popular grandfather, the late Nevada Gov. and Sen. Paul Laxalt, who died last month at the age of 96. For the record, Paul didn’t endorse Adam in 2014.
I’ve known the Laxalt family ever since I came to Carson City in 1962 and have had many pleasant encounters with Paul and other members of his fine family through the years. Although we were on opposite sides of the political aisle — he defeated the governor I worked for, Democrat Grant Sawyer, in 1966 — we remained friends and I saw him a couple of times in Washington, D.C., where he remained after retiring from the Senate in 1987.
My late wife Consuelo and I hosted Paul’s brother John, a Las Vegas attorney/lobbyist, during the World Soccer Cup in Madrid, Spain, in 1982, and spent time with brothers Robert, a noted author and longtime director of the University of Nevada Press, and Peter (“Mickey”), a prominent and personable Reno attorney, in the 1990s. Personally, I always thought Bob “Frenchy” Laxalt was a closet Democrat, like other members of his Basque immigrant family, including those who are attacking Adam.
Back to the Laxalt vs. Sisolak race to replace popular two-term Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, I’m inclined to support Laxalt because I admire his family even when they fight with each other, and because Sisolak is a Las Vegas political insider through and through. I like politicians who know where the state capital is and aren’t trying to make Nevada look more like California.
Remember, we don’t care how they do it in California. Right?
Although Adam Laxalt’s online biography says he’s a “fourth-generation Nevadan,” he actually grew up in Northern Virginia and didn’t come to Nevada until he graduated from college Back East and served with the Navy in Iraq. “For a distant cousin to attack Adam for coming home to raise his family in Nevada after his service in Iraq … shows how petty and political these attacks are,” said a Laxalt spokesman.
I chatted with Adam at the Carson City Farmers Market in August. He wasn’t campaigning, just hanging out with his wife and kids. That tells me his heart’s in the right place.
Guy W. Farmer, a retired diplomat, has been an adopted Nevadan since 1962.