The Freedom Partners Action Fund, a conservative group funded in part by the Koch political network, launched a $1.5 million ad buy in the Nevada governor's race on Wednesday.
The ad buy is meant to bolster the bid of Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R.), who is vying to succeed Nevada's incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval this year. Laxalt, the grandson of the late Nevada Sen. Paul Laxalt (R.), is viewed as the GOP's best chance to keep the governorship in a state increasingly trending toward the Democratic camp.
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Freedom Partners is running two ads, one highlighting Laxalt's record in cutting waste and streamlining the attorney general's office, and the other lambasting the Democratic nominee, Steve Sisolak, for being a "career politician" who's mastered the art of "crony politics"
James Davis, a spokesman for Freedom Partners, said in a statement that his organization was committed to ensuring the Silver State elected a governor who had the people's interests "first in mind."
"Nevadans deserve a governor they know will serve with their interests first in mind – without exception," the spokesman said.
Davis asserted the two ads are meant to cast light on the divergent characteristics and priorities of the two men competing to take the helm of state government.
"Adam Laxalt has demonstrated that he’ll be a leader on issues, including stopping wasteful government spending, that help Nevada communities and families improve their lives," he said. "In stark contrast, Steve Sisolak’s time as Clark County Commission Chair raises questions about abusing the office to fuel personal political ambitions rather than addressing the people’s business."
This is not the first time Freedom Partners has made a foray into Nevada politics to aid Laxalt. Shortly after the attorney general announced his run for governor in November 2017, the group endorsed Laxalt and launched a statewide $1 million television and digital ad campaign on his behalf.
The buy comes on the heels of a high-profile visit to Nevada by President Donald Trump last week. The president officially made the visit to address the Nevada Republican Party convention and to host a fundraiser for Sen. Dean Heller (R.), who faces a tough re-election fight this cycle.
Laxalt was first elected attorney general in 2014 after a close contest with former Democratic Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, the son of a former governor. Since assuming office, Laxalt, himself a veteran of the Iraq war, has championed pro bono legal representation for members of the military and veterans. The Republican has also, as the Freedom Partners' ad attests, strived to run a lean and efficient attorney general's office. As of September 2017, Laxalt's office had returned over $30 million to Nevada's taxpayers in unused funds.
Since announcing his bid for governor, Laxalt has run a strong campaign focused on job creation, opposition to sanctuary cities, and the prevention of overzealous regulations he says would tragically turn Nevada into California. Earlier this month, Laxalt, who garnered Trump's endorsement ahead of the primary, overwhelmingly defeated four other candidates, including Nevada's incumbent two-term state treasurer, for the Republican nomination.
While Democrats have attempted to paint Laxalt as being too closely associated with Trump, their own nominee faces big hurdles heading into the general election.
The Democratic nominee, as the Freedom Partners ad indicates, has come under fire for his role as chair of the Clark County Commission, the most "powerful local government in Nevada." Sisolak has particularly reaped criticism for accepting thousands of dollars in campaign contributions "on the day of, before, and after" meetings of the county commission. In one case, Sisolak received a $10,000 contribution from a major construction company only one day after voting in favor of awarding the company a $1.9 million public contract.
Complicating matters further for Sisolak is the fact he was forced to wage a bitter and negative campaign against Chris Giunchigliani, his rival for the Democratic nomination and also a Clark County commissioner. Sisolak faced the stringent competition despite getting the endorsement of former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, an acknowledged "kingmaker" in Nevada Democratic circles.
Efforts undertaken by Freedom Partners showcase the race is likely to become more high-profile as voters consider who should govern the state for the next four years.
Davis echoed such sentiments in his statement announcing the ad buy.
"Voters deserve to know these facts as they contemplate the choices for Nevada’s next chief executive," he said.