Twelve family members of Nevada Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt spoke out against him in an op-ed Tuesday, criticizing his lack of a true connection to the state and questioning his qualifications for the role.
“We are writing as members of the Laxalt family who have spent our lives in Nevada, and feel compelled to protect our family name from being leveraged and exploited by Adam Laxalt, the Republican candidate for governor,” the dozen of Laxalt’s cousins, second cousins and aunts write in the op-ed, published in the Reno Gazette-Journal.
“As this Election Day nears, we feel compelled to speak publicly about why we believe that Adam Laxalt is the wrong choice for Nevada’s governorship.”
The family members first reference how Laxalt was born in Reno but grew up in Washington, DC, and began a Nevada political career a year after he moved back in 2013.
“Aside from the occasional short visit, Adam never knew the state or its people,” the family members write. “Perhaps if he had, he would stand for Nevada’s values rather than for those of his out-of-state donors.”
The op-ed blasts the “phoniness” of his annual Basque Fry fundraiser – an event Laxalt hosts each year where national Republican political figures speak and which he says “continues both a Laxalt tradition, and a Nevada tradition” that was started by his grandfather, former Nevada governor and US Sen. Paul Laxalt – and the irony of how “in the face of Nevada’s history as a state made of newcomers, including our own immigrant forebears, he has advocated against immigrants as well as against businesses and individuals who have moved here from other states.
The family members criticize Laxalt’s qualifications to serve as governor, citing how members of his former firm called his tenure as a practicing lawyer “a train wreck” and alleging that he outsourced jobs in his office while he was Nevada attorney general to focus on his gubernatorial campaign.
Laxalt campaign communications director Parker Briden said in a statement shared with CNN that some of Laxalt’s “distant relatives” are “lifelong liberal activists, donors, and operatives.”
“They’ve done this many times—going back to 2014—and it’s never had any impact,” Briden added. “Adam’s record of protecting Nevada seniors, veterans, and women is far more in line with Nevada’s values than Steve Sisolak’s support for raising property taxes, his doubling of student tuition, and his pattern of pay-to-play politics—for which he was called corrupt by a judge.”
Sisolak’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
Following the op-ed’s publication, 22 of his family members, including his mother, came to his defense, calling the other 12 “partisan Democrats, many of whom aren’t even registered to vote in Nevada.”
“Unlike those who chose to assail Adam, we know him,” 22 of Laxalt’s other relatives wrote in a separate Reno Gazette-Journal op-ed, adding, “We’re proud to call him brother, son, nephew, grand-nephew, cousin and friend. And we’ll be even prouder to call him governor.”
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to properly attribute a quote to Parker Briden.
CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.