Political Dynasties Battle in Race for Nevada Attorney General

Tuesday, 11 Mar 2014 10:58 AM

By John Gizzi

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The race for state attorney general of Nevada will feature the heirs to two of the most illustrious political names in the Silver State: Republican Adam Laxalt, grandson of former Sen. Paul Laxalt, and Democrat Ross Miller, secretary of state and son of former Gov. Bob Miller.

While primaries have yet to be held, Laxalt and Miller have effectively wrapped up the nominations of their respective parties, and their spirited contest is heating up early for the seat of retiring Democratic Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.

"The most obvious difference between us is the kind of experiences we had," first-time office-seeker Laxalt told Newsmax, contrasting his background as an active duty U.S. Navy lieutenant, a judge advocate general who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and as a federal prosecutor, with that of Miller, who served as an intern in the Clinton White House, deputy district attorney of Clark County, and Nevada secretary of state for the past eight years.

Much as Democrats such as Andrew Cuomo of New York and Jerry Brown of California used their tenure as state attorneys general to aggressively advance causes such as consumer protection and the anti-tobacco offensive, Laxalt, 35, has vowed to be a fighting attorney general — but for very different causes.

"Nevada needs to be protected from stifling federal overreach," he said. "With 90 percent of our lands owned by the federal government, why don't they give us back some of our land? We're citizens, not subjects."

The former prosecutor said that one of his first projects if elected will be to renew efforts to regain control of federal lands. In addition, Laxalt said he intends to "protect our cattle farmers, whose property and livelihood are being threatened by the attempt to list the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act. The way that the ESA has been interpreted and enforced, it's killing our economy and killing our jobs."

As it is in just about every state holding an election this year, the issue of Obamacare also has reared its head in Nevada.

During the National Governors Association meeting last month, Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval told Newsmax that his state is not part of the federal exchange and instead has its own independently designed online healthcare exchange.

"As of this month, approximately 50,000 people signed up for Medicaid and about 24,000 selected plans under the Affordable Care Act," Sandoval said. "And about 18,000 have paid premiums to ensure coverage."

As a result, Sandoval said, the Obamacare exchange in Nevada "has lowered its goal of 120,000 newly insured by March 31 to 50,000. This is something Jon Hager, its chief executive officer, explained to the Silver State Health Exchange. And then Mr. Hager resigned."

Laxalt says the governor fought Obamacare even though his attorney general at the time refused to join a lawsuit against the healthcare law.

"No one wanted this top-down massive health overhaul to hit this state," Laxalt said. "The results have been worse than anticipated."

As attorney general, he said, "I would try to find every avenue available to stop its implementation."

Laxalt contrasted his two-fisted approach to the office he wants to hold with that of outgoing attorney general Masto, "who hasn't emphasized lawsuits against the president or the federal government."

In part because of his position in statewide office and as the son of a revered Democrat, Miller, 37, has wrapped up the nomination and is expected to be heavily bankrolled by organized labor.

It is taken for granted in Las Vegas that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, will weigh in strongly for his family friend Miller. In 1974, Reid lost his first race for the Senate to Adam's grandfather Paul Laxalt — who also served as governor and Republican national chairman under Ronald Reagan — by fewer than 500 votes.

But Laxalt is one of the unique fraternity of Republicans running for office who has the enthusiastic backing of all factions in his party.

Establishment Republicans such as Sandoval, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, and former GOP National Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf are actively helping Laxalt.

In addition, tea party groups and libertarian backers of Rand Paul who like Laxalt's tough anti-government manifesto are equally eager to help him.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.


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