NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nevada—As the blue sky darkened purple, the setting sun slipped behind a braid of black clouds, setting the horizon aflame.
“Look at that sunset?” Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes asked about 200 people gathered in a truck lot off East Craig Road.
“That’s a big red wave,” he said.
The sunset was assuredly another sign, all gathered agreed on the night of Nov. 4, that Republicans would win back the House on Nov. 8, take the Senate, and reverse the policies imposed by President Joe Biden and a Democrat-controlled Congress.
Reyes, who at 42 years old is in his third four-year term as Utah’s attorney general, served as the rally emcee on behalf of Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt, shuttling nine “rock stars” to-and-from the mic on a stage before the candidate closed the show.
The rally was the 29th stop of Laxalt’s 10-day bus tour, which ends Nov. 6 in Reno. The bus has traversed all 17 Nevada counties, and Laxalt has stumped from Elko to Eureka, Moapa to Pahrump.
Laxalt is challenging incumbent Democrat Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada) in one of the nation’s most pivotal and expensive showdowns of the 2022 midterms.
The Laxalt-Cortez Masto election is a clash of former state attorney generals.
All forecasts and polls are indecisive. The Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball rates the race a “tossup.” FiveThirtyEight polling aggregates give Laxalt a 6.6 percent edge. Three of six polls since Oct. 24 say Cortez Masto leads, and three say she trails.
Cortez Masto has raised more than three times more money than Laxalt. According to her campaign’s Oct. 19 Federal Election Commission filing,
Her campaign has collected almost $52.9 million compared to Laxalt’s $15.4 million.
Laxalt may not have Cortez Masto’s money, but he has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump and is actively supported by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. He also gets some name recognition as the son of former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and grandson of former Nevada governor and Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.).
Also at the rally, Lieutenant Governor candidate Stavros Anthony, a retired Las Vegas police captain and Las Vegas City Councilman since 2009, and Sam Peters, who is seeking to unseat two-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nevada).
National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said his advocacy organization had never been involved in congressional races beyond the border states, but now the problems at the border are reaching every part of the country.
Agents typically apprehend 30,000 to 40,000 people a month illegally crossing the border, he said. Now, it’s 200,000 a month.
“What Adam is going to bring to the table” is border enforcement and clearly crafted immigration laws, Judd said. “If he wasn’t going to do that, I wouldn’t be here.”
Robert O’Brien, who was Trump’s fourth and final national security advisor after serving as special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, a one-year ambassador titled appointment, scalded Biden for the “catastrophe in Afghanistan.”
He recalled eating Thanksgiving Dinner in 2019 with the troops and Trump at Bagram Air Base outside Kabul in Afghanistan. “You know who is in that cafeteria right now, paid for by American taxpayers?” O’Brien asked. “The Taliban.”
Matt Whittaker, who served as acting U.S. Attorney General under Trump for four months, said it is “time now to restore law and order in Nevada and across the country.”
Laxalt “will do the blocking and tackling for law enforcement” to do that, said Whittaker, who played tight end for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes.
He said the alternative was “a less safe, less prosperous, dimmer future with Joe Biden and Catherine Cortez Masto.”
Richard Grennell, a former Director of National Intelligence under Trump and Ambassador to Germany from 2018-20, acknowledged Republican candidates are being out-raised and out-spent in most races across the country, including in Nevada.
“The Democrats have a whole lot more money than we do,” he said, but they need more money than Republicans do because “it’s taking a whole lot of money to convince us that gas prices are normal.”
“We’re at a road that diverges. You have to do something,” calling on rallygoers to call all friends and family and get them to vote, even if that means “you take them to the polls.”
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who was with Trump and O’Brien for the 2019 Thanksgiving dinner in Afghanistan, said he has served on the Senate Energy Committee for years and is its ranking member.
He joked that he had just learned Cortez Masto has been on the committee for six years but is a policy ghost. “Catherine Cortez Masto is on that committee? Who knew?”
Barrasso said he’s hoping for 53 or 54 GOP-held Senate seats in 2023, “but I’m here with 51.”
By the time Laxalt stepped to the mic to make his fifth pitch of the day, the sky was black, and night had fallen.
After unspooling the standard stump speech, he told supporters that the upcoming election offers “one last shot to save our great state” and was buoyed by the enthusiasm he had seen.
“Republicans are turning out. Democrats? What do they have to show up for?” he said, before cautioning “not to be over-confident.”