With one week until the Nevada primary, opponents of GOP Senate candidate Adam Laxalt are remaining silent as fellow supporters of another candidate go after Laxalt’s parentage.
Nearly 10 years ago, former Republican New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici revealed he had fathered a son with Michelle Laxalt outside of his marriage in the 1970s. That son is Adam. Michelle is the daughter of another prominent western politician, Paul Laxalt, who served Nevada as governor and senator.
In tweets throughout the race, George Harris, a former state party chairman who supports another GOP Senate candidate, Sam Brown, went after the Trump-endorsed former attorney general for going by the last name Laxalt has used his entire life.
“Shouldn’t [Adam Laxalt] be [Adam Paul Domenici]?” Harris wrote in an October tweet. “Just thinking out loud, I mean his Dad was U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, what ever happen to truth in advertising?”
“I just like honesty,” Harris wrote in another post. “Adam is a Domenici, not a Laxalt. If your gonna vote…vote for a Hero Sam Brown.”
Brown’s campaign did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment.
In an interview with The Federalist, Harris was unrepentant and said the questions were entirely legitimate. He cited an open letter published in the Reno Gazette-Journal by a dozen Laxalt family members opposing Adam’s 2018 bid for governor.
“We are writing as members of the Laxalt family who have spent our lives in Nevada, and feel compelled to protect our family name from being leveraged and exploited by Adam Laxalt, the Republican candidate for governor,” they wrote, criticizing the candidate for having been raised around Washington D.C. as opposed to Reno, where he was born.
If he responds to this column at all, it will probably be to say that he hardly knows the people writing this column. And in many ways that would be true. We never had a chance to get to know him, really — he spent his life in Washington, D.C., while we lived in Northern Nevada and grew up in public schools and on public lands.
Another letter was published by 22 Laxalt family members a day later in the same paper, condemning the public criticism as “a vicious and entirely baseless attack.”
“Not only do the authors get basic facts wrong about Adam’s history in Nevada, they also completely misrepresent his service to our state and our country,” they wrote. “We could not be more proud of his service as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, his commitment to keeping our country safe while serving in Iraq, his service as a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, and his continued dedication to service as attorney general.”
Harris told The Federalist he donated $1,000 to Brown’s Senate bid, but beyond public advocacy had no formal role with the campaign. On Laxalt’s name, Harris said, “it’s absolutely fair game.”
“He’s the one who decided to run for office. When you run for office, whatever’s in your background is fair game,” Harris told The Federalist. “I’m sorry I hurt his little feelings, maybe he can put his big boy pants on.”
Laxalt, Harris said, continues to go by Laxalt “probably because it’s very embarrassing for his mother.”
“It wasn’t acceptable to go out with a married man back then,” Harris added.
Reed Galen, the co-founder of the scandal-ridden Lincoln Project, also took aim at Laxalt for going by his mother’s name as opposed to Domenici.
“Why do you keep using someone else’s name?” Galen asked on Twitter.
The Lincoln Project also did not respond to The Federalist’s inquiries.
In a post sent to Laxalt’s followers last week, Laxalt’s mother, Michelle, condemned the attacks as the “lowest of the low.”
“I raised Adam as a single mother. As with any son born without a father, he took my last name. Adam had no idea who his biological father was until he was an adult,” she wrote. “As the son of a single mother, Adam struggled for years with challenges that many similarly situated people experience. We did our best. I am proud of Adam-he has overcome much to become a proud father, husband, veteran, and our state’s 33rd Attorney General.”
Tristan Justice is the western correspondent for The Federalist. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and The Daily Signal. His work has also been featured in Real Clear Politics and Fox News. Tristan graduated from George Washington University where he majored in political science and minored in journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at [email protected]