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In Nevada, Cortez Masto taunts Laxalt with new ads boasting his family endorsed her

In the final days of a bitterly fought Senate campaign, Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto wants voters to know that 14 members of her rival’s family have chosen to endorse her — not him. 

Cortez Masto’s campaign plans to run full-page ads in English and Spanish in seven newspapers on Sunday that feature a letter signed by relatives of GOP Senate candidate Adam Laxalt.

The ad, first shared with NBC News, will print the letter from family members in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Reno Gazette Journal, Las Vegas Weekly, Nevada Appeal, Elko Daily Free Press, El Sol and El Mundo.

“Today we, the undersigned members of the Laxalt family, are writing in support of the re-election of Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto for the U.S. Senate. We believe that Catherine possesses a set of qualities that clearly speak of what we like to call ‘Nevada grit,” reads the letter from Laxalt’s relatives, including aunts and cousins. “We staunchly believe that Catherine is well equipped with her own ‘Nevada grit’ — a quality that she will take forward in representation of our home state for six more years across the halls of Congress.” 

Nevada’s Senate race is one of the closest in the country, with a series of recent polls showing Cortez Masto and Laxalt in a dead heat. The outcome of the contest could determine the balance of the Senate, now narrowly held by Democrats.

The newspaper ads, highlighting a three-page letter reported by the Nevada Independent in October, is the latest attempt by Cortez Masto’s campaign to go after Laxalt’s claims to his political pedigree in the battleground, which date back to his late grandfather, Paul Laxalt.

Paul Laxalt, a former Nevada senator and governor, was a political institution in the state for decades. Cortez Masto’s campaign, in statewide television ads, accused Adam Laxalt of cashing in on his family name even though he was raised in the East Coast.  

In October, Laxalt responded to the letter from his 14 family members, tweeting: “It’s not surprising that once again a handful of family members and spouses, half of whom do not live in Nevada, and most of whom are Democrats, are supporting a Democrat,”

It’s the second time Laxalt family members have endorsed his opponent. In his unsuccessful run for governor in 2018, 12 of his relatives penned an op-ed saying Laxalt’s campaign “leveraged and exploited the family name.” That prompted a rebuttal from other Laxalt family members who voiced their support for him.

Former President Barack Obama at a rally for Cortez Masto and other Nevada Democrats this week poked fun at the Laxalt family dynamic.  

“We all might have a crazy uncle that kind of goes off the rails,” Obama said, laughing. “But if you got a full Thanksgiving dinner table and they’re all saying you don’t belong in the U.S. Senate  — when the people who know you best think your opponent would do a better job, that says something about you. That says something about Catherine.”

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