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Senate GOP’s favorite in Nevada did not trust McConnell last cycle

Sam Brown wanted to see ‘new leadership’ after party PACs backed rival

Nevada Republican candidate for Senate Sam Brown has the establishment backing this time.
Nevada Republican candidate for Senate Sam Brown has the establishment backing this time. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two years ago, Sam Brown was campaigning for Senate in Nevada as an outsider, and he wasn’t shy about criticizing Senate Republican incumbents and those in the Capitol Hill “swamps.”

Times have changed for Brown, who is now the candidate national Republicans want to see take on Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., in 2024. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Steve Daines of Montana praised Brown’s entry into the race, and other Republicans, including Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, have endorsed him.

As the Washington Examiner reported, Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota encouraged Brown to run again.

Brown’s campaign says the candidate, a retired Army captain and Purple Heart recipient who lost the 2022 primary to Adam Laxalt, is not backing away from past criticism.

“Sam’s message has been consistent throughout: He wants to change Washington and put people first,” his campaign said in a statement Tuesday. “The difference this time is that other people are recognizing he is the best candidate to do that.”

Some of Brown’s most candid remarks last cycle, according to audio reviewed by CQ Roll Call, came in commentary about Cotton and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

During an exchange at the Republican Men’s Club of Northern Nevada in November 2021 about why then-President Donald Trump had endorsed Laxalt months earlier, Brown brought up the fact that McConnell was also supporting the eventual GOP nominee.

“The other thing is, guess who else has endorsed Adam? Mitch McConnell. So it’s, you know, if we trust Mitch McConnell, well then, well, I’m sorry for you, but I don’t,” Brown said. “For those people who do care about endorsements, that’s one that people ought to, ought to be looking at as well.”

The same month, at an event in Las Vegas, Brown disparaged political action committees aligned with the Senate leadership.

“I’ve taken no money from their PACs,” he said. “I’ve taken none of their endorsements. They have their candidate in this primary. You probably know who it is. I owe Mitch nothing, and I would love to see new leadership.”

As for Cotton, Brown told attendees at a December 2021 fundraiser that the Arkansas senator was a “creature” of one of what Brown described as the multiple “swamps” in the nation’s capital. Brown referenced the scene at the Basque Fry, a Republican political event organized by a Laxalt-supporting political action committee.

“And Tom Cotton was sitting there having conversations over this fence and shaking people’s hands. What is wrong with these people that they can’t get out from behind a fence in an event that is largely extremely conservative people, and get out and mingle with the folks?” Brown said. “The fact that we even set up that type of environment where we have the haves and have nots. It’s just, it’s ludicrous, and I don’t appreciate it.”

Brown faces a contested primary, with Jim Marchant, who lost his 2022 bid for secretary of state running on baseless claims that Trump had the 2020 presidential election stolen from him, also in the field.

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Photos of the week ending June 14, 2024