Las Vegas Sun

November 14, 2018

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Sun Editorial:

Laxalt takes self-serving approach to Republican primary

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Scott Sonner / AP

Attorney General Adam Laxalt speaks at a luncheon sponsored by the Republican Men’s Club of Northern Nevada, Thursday, May 17, 2018 in Reno.

Short of being spotted in a “Dump Trump” T-shirt at a rally of Planned Parenthood supporters, Adam Laxalt is likely to be the Republican candidate for governor on the November ballot.

So why would he make a stink about a couple of candidates being added to a GOP debate in this month’s primary?

The official explanation is that Laxalt’s camp objected to the inclusion of candidates Dan Schwartz and Frederick Conquest because those two didn’t meet all of the stated criteria for the debate. Laxalt and Jared Fisher met all of the criteria, which were established by the parent company of the debate’s organizer, KLAS-TV. Amid the hubbub, KLAS canceled the debate and instead offered interviews with the four individual candidates.

“Adam still wanted to participate in a debate with the one other candidate who did meet the criteria, but he respects the decision by KLAS to change its format,” the Laxalt campaign said in a release.

How weak-kneed.

This is a candidate who wants to lead the state, but he couldn’t do the responsible thing by Republican voters and just roll with the changes? Keep in mind, this was the only televised debate on the GOP side of the gubernatorial race. When it was scrubbed, voters lost the opportunity to hear what might have been illuminating dialogue between the candidates.

Laxalt, who is far ahead of the field in fundraising and in polling, could have treated the event as a chance to barrel in, blow any and all hopefuls into the weeds and pick up support from Republicans who might not be in his corner at the moment.

But instead, he left Nevadans wondering what he was afraid of.

Fisher answered that question by seizing on a long-standing criticism of Laxalt — that he doesn’t think well on his feet, and therefore limits his media interviews and public appearances to conservative news organizations and audiences.

The Schwartz camp bumped it up a notch, suggesting that Laxalt was afraid of Schwartz.

Whatever the case, GOP voters were the losers. In November, they should remember that Laxalt served them poorly.

Of course, Laxalt’s status as a front-runner gives him the luxury of sitting back, being quiet and cruising through the primary.

That’s a nice, safe approach, but one that only serves him and not the voters he would represent as governor.