Remember the days when Ron Paul was a fringe Congressional backbencher, California was just a state, reality TV stars were not calling the shots in a major political party, and “alternative facts” wasn’t actually a thing? I certainly do, and I’m not even all that old. What on earth is going on with Nevada Republicans now?
Let’s just say they have a whole lot of explaining to do. But since they refuse to do so, it’s time for us to talk about truth and consequences.
Screams of Californication
Let’s get two things out of the way: First, I was born and raised in Orange County, California. Second, I’ve lived in Nevada longer than Adam Laxalt (R). (No, really: He moved here in 2011. I moved here in 2009.)
For someone who spent most of his life climbing the Republican Party’s political ladder in the wild, wild west of Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., it’s pretty wild to see the Attorney General invite out-of-state Republican operatives to his annual Gardnerville barbeque to attack Nevada Democrats as a bunch of California interlopers. Not only are Laxalt and his Trump-tastic buddies attacking the state with the world’s fifth largest economy, a balanced budget that manages to invest more in public education while also maintaining $16 billion in reserves, and many of the most beautiful places on this planet, but they also continue to peddle lies about California’s immigrant communities to engage in some good old-fashioned, Trump-style fear-mongering.
In addition to all that misleading fear-mongering, there’s one more thing about Adam Laxalt’s campaign against California: Laxalt loves making money there.
If Newport Beach looks vaguely familiar to you, let me explain why: It was the very scenic backdrop for such scripted TV shows as “Arrested Development” and “The OC”, and it’s still the favorite playground for “The Real Housewives of Orange County”. Though the real Newport Beach isn’t quite the ridiculous caricature we see on TV, all these shows get one critical detail right on the money: It’s rich! The median home price is $2.4 million, the median household income is $106,801 (the fourth highest in the nation), and it’s where four billionaires on the Forbes 400 list call home.
Newport Beach is also home to the Bahnsen Group, a very high-end wealth management firm. It just so happens that the Bahnsen Group has helped boost the wealth of one Adam Laxalt, the Nevada politician by way of Virginia who loves to hate on California… Except, apparently, when it’s time to rake it up.
This might help us understand why Laxalt has had trouble locking down the far-right flank of his party despite his frequent embraces of President Donald Trump and his nativist platform. For all his folksy cowboy cosplay, Laxalt loves to hobnob with the very “globalist elites” he and Trump decry in public (and in tony Indian Wells, California, no less!). And when these same “elites” lavish $1.5 million in ads promoting Laxalt, he shows nothing but gratitude for them.
Perhaps then, it’s no wonder why fringe gadfly turned right-wing influencer Ron Paul endorsed Ryan Bundy for Governor last night. If it’s a choice between cowboy cosplay and a real-life “range warrior”, the Paulistas might as well go for the real deal.
Speaking of cosplay, let’s check on Senator Heller
It’s not just Adam Laxalt who’s been struggling with this very Trumpy dilemma. Yesterday’s New York Times report on Trump’s growing dominance of the Republican Party only confirmed what we already knew about Senator Dean Heller (R): He cut that deal to score Trump’s endorsement in order to avoid a brutal primary loss to telemarketing genius and real estate guru Danny Tarkanian.
Oh, and what a steep price Heller has had to pay for that Trump endorsement. The former “‘No Labels’ moderate” has had another extreme political makeover over the past year, going from “pragmatic centrist” to dogmatic Trumpist. Whether it’s his total backflip on health care or his perplexing flop on immigration, Heller has ditched not only Governor Brian Sandoval (R), but also his own prior record, just to curry favor with Trump and his fan base.
So how’s that working out for Heller? Sure, he won the primary in June, but he scored 11,000 fewer votes than Rep. Jacky Rosen (D). And despite his and his allies’ relentless ad campaign that’s high on drama and short on facts, Heller is still polling no better than dead-even against Rosen in the Senate race. Just last week, a new Public Policy Polling survey showed Rosen holding a 5% lead over Heller (48%-43%) thanks to Heller taking positions that Trump might love, but most Nevadans don’t.
Sometimes, “alternative facts” just aren’t enough
As I’ve been saying here for some time, President Donald Trump has taken full control of the Republican Party, and this power grab comes with serious consequences. One such consequence is the seemingly never-ending stream of “alternative facts” that pollutes our political landscape.
Both Dean Heller and Adam Laxalt have been playing fast and loose with real facts while spinning their elaborate narratives. Yet no matter how often they slam the door on reporters , push a sham bill that obfuscates their true agenda, or invite Kellyanne Conway herself to the stage to deliver a fresh batch of “alternative facts” for the cameras, the truth always comes out at some point. And when constituents learn the truth, they’re going to have to deal with the consequences.
Now excuse me while I make dinner reservations for this weekend. I hear there are some very nice restaurants near Adam Laxalt’s favorite wealth management firm in Newport Beach.