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John L. Smith On Adam Laxalt's Push For Votes In Northern Nevada

(AP Photo/Scott Sonner)

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt speaks Thursday, May 17, 2018, at a luncheon in Reno, Nev., sponsored by the Republican Men's Club of Northern Nevada. Laxalt urged attendees to rally around his gubernatorial campaign as the best way to fend off what he described as overzealous, California-style regulations that would undermine Nevada's conservative principles and future economic growth.

Gubernatorial candidate and state Attorney General Adam Laxalt held his fourth annual Basque Fry at the Corley Ranch in Gardnerville last weekend -- and despite the fact he was just a few minutes away, State of Nevada contributor John L. Smith wasn’t invited. 


After lamenting the lost opportunity to dine on deep-fried lamb testicles -- a Basque tradition -- John joins us from somewhere in Northern Nevada. 


On Adam Laxalt’s Basque fry:

“It probably bolsters his campaign in the short run. It certainly gives him a couple of headlines. It gives reporters who were allowed access and it is my understanding that the Nevada Independent wasn’t allowed… a chance to listen to the partisans to see how fired up people are.”

However, Smith said from what he saw of the rhetoric used at the gathering the main push from Laxalt and his surrogates is he needs to win to protect Nevada from becoming California.

Smith said that tack seems to be “old schtick” and for him, it speaks to a lack of big ideas from the Laxalt camp.

On Steve Sisolak’s ads in Northern Nevada:

 “This is an area where Sisolak has a lot of work to do. As a regent, he went head to head with Joe Crowley [former president of UNR] and that, certainly to this day, is mentioned in conversation with partisans up in Northern Nevada. Even those who are in his own party remember that. It is something he has to work on to humanize himself.”

Smith said Laxalt is working on two themes in Northern Nevada. One is his personal story of overcoming adversity and the other is pushing the idea that Sisolak can’t be trusted, especially because he’s from Southern Nevada.

On the Laxalt name in Northern Nevada:

“I’ve asked that question to a number of people folks I know up here and folks who are complete strangers. I’ve looked at their expressions. I’ve listened to what they’ve said. I think that overall certainly there is a popularity – certainly in Republican circles – of Paul Laxalt. He’s the legendary governor and senator who died recently. However, when it comes to Adam Laxalt, members of the Laxalt family are at odds with his candidacy.”

Smith believes that family split speaks to a bigger truth about Adam Laxalt and that is he’s only been in Nevada for a few years.

He believes the attorney general will need to prove himself even to people who should be behind him.

Smith believes Adam Laxalt will be judged more on his performance in the campaign and not by a label or his family heritage.

On the Gaming Control Board and CG Technologies:

“There is no question that this is a real test for Nevada gaming regulators”

Smith explained that CG Technologies, which was once called Cantor Gaming, is facing some serious allegations of mishandling sports betting.

It is not the first time the company has run afoul of gaming regulators. However, this time the sports betting world has changed because of the Supreme Court ruling that essentially lets states to allow sports betting.

Smith says Americans are embracing sports betting because they feel that legal sports betting is better than illegal sports betting. They have that view because of Nevada’s ability to regulate the industry.

He said if Nevada allows bad actors to operate it will reflect badly on the state, gaming regulators and sports betting on a whole.

Smith said this case is a real test of the character of the Gaming Commission and the Gaming Control Board.

John L. Smith, contributor

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.