Adam Laxalt defeated Sam Brown and six other candidates in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Nevada on June 14, 2022. Incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto (D) is running for re-election.
Laxalt and Brown led in polling and fundraising throughout the race. On June 1, 2022, NBC’s Natasha Korecki and Adam Edelman wrote, “There are signs that grassroots support is propelling Sam Brown, a retired Army captain, though Adam Laxalt, a former state attorney general, maintains a solid lead in public polls.”
Former President Donald Trump (R), Sen. Ted Cruz (R), Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), and other national Republican figures endorsed Laxalt, and Laxalt made these endorsements a key part of his campaign. At a May 9 debate, Laxalt said, “President Trump looked into a camera and said the only person that he can trust in this state is me, and that’s because I have stood consistently and concretely for our conservative values.” Laxalt served as the Trump’s 2020 campaign’s Nevada co-chair.
The Nevada Republican Party endorsed Brown at its April 30 convention. To win the party’s endorsement, a candidate needed to earn the support of more than 50% of the delegates present at the convention. Brown received the vote of 80% of the delegates, and Laxalt received the vote of exactly 50%, below the threshold needed for an official endorsement. Brown said, “I’m grateful to be the only U.S. Senate candidate to receive the endorsement of the Nevada Republican Party.”
As of May 25, Brown’s campaign had raised $4 million. “That doesn’t sound like a lot for many states, but in Nevada, that’s a lot of money,” John Ralston, an expert in Nevada politics, said.
In May, Chuck Muth, a conservative campaign consultant, said, “The fundraising numbers clearly show there’s something about the guy that people are drawn to. … But it’s still Laxalt’s race to lose.” As of May 25, Laxalt had raised $5.8 million.
Both Laxalt and Brown highlighted inflation and immigration as key issues. On inflation, Laxalt said he would reduce government spending and pursue energy independence, while Brown said the Federal Reserve should raise interest rates at a rapid pace.
On immigration, Laxalt’s website said he supported the Migrant Protection Protocols, a policy under which the U.S. returns to Mexico citizens and nationals of countries other than Mexico while their U.S. removal proceedings are processed. Brown said the length of the immigration process should be expedited, but said he “opposed amnesty in any way, shape or form.”
Brown accused Laxalt of ignoring instances of election fraud while serving as attorney general. At the May 9 debate, Brown told Laxalt, “You knew that in 2016, non-citizens did vote, and you did nothing about that. And then in 2020 […] the only thing you did was to file a lawsuit that, by your own admission, was late.” Laxalt responded by saying that it was the secretary of state’s responsibility to investigate voter fraud. He also criticized Brown for his ties to Texas, saying, “You were running in Texas and living in Texas when you’re accusing me of doing these things.”
Laxalt served as attorney general of Nevada from 2015 to 2019 and was the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2018, losing to Steve Sisolak (D) 49.4% to 45.3%. In December 2020, Laxalt filed a lawsuit against Nevada’s secretary of state alleging she failed to remove noncitizens from state voter rolls. Laxalt is the grandson of former Nevada Sen. Paul Laxalt (R) and the son of former New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici (R).
Brown, a small business owner, served in the U.S. Army until 2011. In 2008, while deployed in Afghanistan, Brown was wounded by an IED explosion that injured his face. Brown highlighted that experience and his recovery process throughout his campaign. Brown was a candidate for Texas House District 102 in 2014 before moving to Nevada in 2018.
At the time of the primary, three election forecasters rated the general election as a Toss-up.