Las Vegas Sun

November 21, 2018

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Laxalt-Sandoval relationship ‘softening,’ former Gov. Robert List says

Gov. Brian Sandoval

Gov. Brian Sandoval

Adam Laxalt

Adam Laxalt

Steve Sisolak

Steve Sisolak

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval has yet to support GOP gubernatorial nominee Adam Laxalt. But former Gov. Robert List, a mentor to Laxalt, said the Sandoval-Laxalt relationship may be “softening” and that the two Republicans have much in common.

List said he doesn’t believe Laxalt would move to undo what Sandoval counts as some of his biggest achievements. “They are on the same page in a lot of things,” he said.

List, Nevada’s governor from 1979 to 1983, said Sandoval’s support would be helpful as Laxalt takes on Democratic nominee Steve Sisolak in the November general election. Sisolak is chairman of the Clark County Commission, and Laxalt is ending his first term as Nevada attorney general.

“Brian Sandoval is a popular guy,” List said. “He has the highest ratings in terms of favorability of any public officeholder in Nevada today.”

List noted that the friction between Sandoval and Laxalt dates to Laxalt’s first year as attorney general, when he joined a federal lawsuit challenging land-use regulations to protect the sage grouse.

Sandoval stood at odds with Laxalt, saying Laxalt did not represent the state and was acting in a “personal capacity.”

In 2015, Laxalt joined 25 other state attorneys general in a lawsuit against then-President Obama’s executive orders on immigration, another move opposed by Sandoval.

“So that’s rather untraditional in Nevada,” List said. “Usually, the AG and governor work together, coordinate pretty closely. But Adam had strong feelings on these things.”

List said it will be important for the GOP to retain the governorship to block legislation put up by a 2019 Legislature expected to be dominated by Democrats.

Bills Sandoval vetoed last year will probably return next year, List said. “And if we have a Democrat governor, it will all be signed into law,” he said.

It is also important to elect a Republican governor because of the redistricting that will take place in 2020, List said.

“If we don’t have a Republican governor, the Democrats and the liberals are just going to take over,” he said. “That’s very significant.”