Trump’s troubled track record with Nevada Republican Senate candidates • Nevada Current

Next weekend convicted felon Donald Trump is scheduled to be in Las Vegas for a fundraiser hosted by area construction equipment mogul, Republican megadonor, and full-on megaMAGAhead Don Ahern. That’s three days before the Nevada primary’s Election Day, but voting has already started of course and many, maybe most, people will have already voted by the June 8 fundraiser.

The Hill noted the fundraiser in a story last week which mostly noodled about the fact Trump hasn’t endorsed anyone in the Nevada Republican Senate primary.

Ahern unsuccessfully urged Trump to unendorse Adam Laxalt in the Nevada Senate primary two years ago and endorse Laxalt’s opponent, Sam Brown, instead. Maybe Brown really impressed Ahern. On the other hand, Ahern is of a generation intimately familiar with the television character Eddie Haskell (google him, younger readers), whose smarmy insincerity Laxalt channeled effortlessly. Too effortlessly.

This year Trump hasn’t endorsed Brown or Trump’s hand-picked train-wreck of an ambassador to Iceland, Jeff Gunter, in the Senate primary. (And though worth only parenthetical mention, nor has Trump endorsed someone who perhaps more than anyone in the United States has strived to be Renfield to Trump’s Dracula, tragic figure Jim Marchant).

Trump could have endorsed the heavily favored Brown earlier and then claimed credit for Brown’s widely expected primary victory, which is a pattern Trump loves to follow. 

Why didn’t he?

I will idly speculate.

Maybe Trump’s just had it with Republican Senate candidates in Nevada.

In October 2016, after Trump’s disgusting remarks on the Access Hollywood tape – “when you’re a star, they let you do it” etc. – went public, Nevada Republican Senate nominee Joe Heck was one of multiple Republican politicians nationwide who renounced their support of Trump. The next month Heck lost to Catherine Cortez Masto by about the same number of votes by which Trump lost Nevada to Hillary Clinton.

In June 2017, Nevada then-Sen. Dean Heller displeased then-president Trump by voting against a bill to repeal Obamacare. A couple days later Heller fell in line and voted for a so-called “skinny” repeal bill (that’s the one John McCain single-thumbedly killed). Heller spent the next 17 months obsequiously fawning over Trump to get back in his good graces, Trump belittling and humiliating him all the way. 

Heller ended up losing his reelection bid to Jacky Rosen, one of two U.S. Senate seats to flip from red to blue in 2018. Although Republicans held on to control of the Senate after the 2018 elections, the significance of Heller’s loss was brought into sharp relief two years later when Democrats would gain control of the Senate with a 50-50 tie and Vice-president Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker.

In 2022 Trump had what he probably thought was a dream candidate for Senate in Nevada. Adam Laxalt had been Trump’s Nevada campaign co-chairman in 2020, and more importantly, had been THE Nevada face of the Big Lie leading up to the 2020 election and in the weeks immediately following. Exactly the sort of Senate candidate Trump could get behind. And Trump did get behind him him, wholeheartedly. And Laxalt lost.

So Trump might think Nevada Senate races are, for his purposes, jinxed. Maybe he hasn’t endorsed anyone in this year’s Republican primary because he didn’t want to get any more on him.

Then again, maybe Trump of late has been too busy forcing his lawyers to mount the least effective trial defense they possibly could, and couldn’t be bothered with endorsing a candidate, even a heavily favored one, in Nevada’s Senate primary.

Then again, maybe it’s something else entirely.

A version of this column was originally published in the Daily Current newsletter, which is free and which you can subscribe to here.

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