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Adam Laxalt Answers Less Than Three Minutes of Questions in Las Vegas, Punts on the Issues, “Whooshed Away by Cocooning Staff”

Adam Laxalt’s political handlers finally let the AG talk to the press for his campaign announcement… in Las Vegas, that meant answering questions for “less than three minutes” before being “whooshed away by cocooning staff.” Pressed to explain his plans for Medicaid expansion and his controversial opposition to a bipartisan increase in education funding, Laxalt punted. In Las Vegas and in Sparks, Laxalt’s announcement was met with protests.

Laxalt’s heavily scripted roll-out confirmed that he’s a candidate who is still not quite ready for prime-time and plans to keep running away from questions on basic issues. That’s because his reckless, ideological agenda would drag Nevada in the wrong direction – threatening our health care and slashing funding for public schools.

The Nevada Independent: Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a rising Republican favorite, officially enters 2018 gubernatorial race

Laxalt’s platform is to the right of Sandoval’s and includes opposing sanctuary cities and repealing the Commerce Tax, a levy on large businesses that the governor spearheaded in 2015 as part of a $1.1 billion tax package.

But Laxalt has not commented in detail about where he stands on several pressing policy questions facing Nevada. In a series of three brief interviews after the speech that added up to less than three minutes total, he spoke about two issues that have defined Sandoval’s term: a fight to preserve Medicaid funding that Nevada gained under the Affordable Care Act (which Laxalt opposed in his 2014 campaign), and a business tax that yields about $100 million a year and backs up spending including a slate of Sandoval-led education reforms.

Asked whether he’d support Nevada ponying up more state funds to keep people on insurance rolls should Obamacare’s Medicaid spending be cut, he demurred.

“It’s a complex issue. We’re going to see what happens in Washington and then we’re going to see what happens next,” he said.

On the Commerce Tax, he noted that he’s never supported the levy and that it makes up “less than 1 percent of what we spend and I’m confident we can make up the difference if voters end up changing that.” Republican State Controller Ron Knecht is trying to qualify a Commerce Tax repeal measure for the 2018 statewide ballot; a similar effort failed last cycle.

Sandoval has spoken sharply against efforts to repeal the tax that was a signature achievement for him and Laxalt’s unofficial running mate, Senate Republican Leader Michael Roberson, and has said an anti-sanctuary cities ballot question filed this week by Roberson is unnecessary. A moderate who’s often praised by Democrats and who’s the sixth most popular governor in the country according to a new poll, Sandoval said that the first-term attorney general hasn’t sought his endorsement or advice about the office and the two haven’t spoken outside boards they both sit on. 

Las Vegas Sun: Laxalt joins 4 gubernatorial candidates in vying to replace Sandoval

Laxalt says he has never supported the commerce tax that was passed by the 2015 Legislature, which steers money toward education. It’s unclear how he would fill the budget hole that eliminating the tax would cause.


Sandoval has said K-12 and higher education would face cuts if the tax is repealed. He said any candidate who wants to cut that budget should explain to parents and teachers where the cuts are going to come from.

“It’s a slap in the face to parents, to kids, to students, to teachers, to the school system,” he said. “That’s almost a $400 million hole that that’s going to be made in the budget. How do you make that up?”


After the speech, Laxalt told two reporters who asked about whether he’d continue Sandoval’s support for Medicaid expansion that he is going to wait to see what happens in D.C. Sandoval was the first Republican governor to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and has been vocal in his opposition to reforms that would harm the expansion or reduce the number of people with health insurance.


Outside the event, supporters of Nevada’s unenforced gun background check law gathered on sidewalks and chanted statements like “we voted for background checks” and held signs criticising Laxalt.

“We are here to put pressure on Adam Laxalt,” said Elizabeth Becker, a volunteer and former chapter leader of Everytown for Gun Safety affiliate Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America. “If he wants to be the governor, then we need to him him say, ‘I will enforce the law as governor and I will work with the FBI as other states have done to get background checks enforced.’”

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Laxalt makes Nevada governor bid official 

Laxalt’s campaign website says he will seek to repeal the 2015 Commerce Tax, which Sandoval championed as a boon for public education funding.

The Affordable Care Act and Sandoval’s expansion of Medicaid in Nevada could also be Laxalt targets. He has been anything but shy in bashing the ACA, and it’s unclear what would happen to that funding if Laxalt were to win next year.

“I’m going to wait and see what happens in Washington before we make any decisions about where we’re heading with health care in Nevada,” Laxalt told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.


The Democratic Governors Association immediately took aim at Laxalt, launching a webpage called “Wrong Way Laxalt” hours before his campaign kickoff.

The site says Laxalt wants to roll back Nevada’s health care coverage, hurt public education by repealing the Commerce Tax and kill clean energy jobs, pointing to his lawsuit that Laxalt endorsed against the Environmental Protection Agency’s and its Clean Energy Plan.

“Nevada deserves a governor focused on creating jobs and making progress for working families,” said Jared Leopold, communications director for the Democratic Governors Association. “Wrong Way Laxalt would focus on serving his political agenda, not the people of Nevada.”