On Thursday, the anti-tax Club for Growth fired a warning shot by releasing a poll from WPA Intelligence showing former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt leading Rep. Mark Amodei 39-35 in a hypothetical GOP primary.
Amodei doesn’t currently face a serious intra-party challenge in his reliably red northern Nevada seat from Laxalt or anyone else, but the Club very much wants to change that. Club president David McIntosh declared, “Rep. Mark Amodei has failed to support conservative principles as well as President Trump during his time in office,” adding, “The message to Republican candidates is clear—cozying up to Democrats on impeachment will result in severe consequences at the ballot box.”
Laxalt, who lost a bid for governor last year and was recently was named a co-chair of Trump’s Nevada campaign, responded to the poll by saying, “As I have stated numerous times, I am not running against Mark Amodei in my home district. I am currently focused on practicing law in the private sector and helping President Trump win Nevada and re-election next year.”
However, the Nevada Independent’s Jon Ralston very much did not interpret this statement as a denial of interest from Laxalt and reported that “Amodei found out Team Laxalt was sniffing around and went after them” by more or less daring Laxalt to enter the race earlier this year.
Back in March, Amodei told Ralston he was pissed when he learned Laxalt was acting like he was about to retire and leave the 2nd Congressional District open for the taking. Amodei, who confirmed he was running again, suggested the next month that Laxalt might run against him rather than just wait for him to retire. That was the last we heard about a potential Laxalt congressional campaign until the Club released their poll Thursday.
Even if Laxalt passes, though, Amodei may still find himself in for a world of pain in next June’s primary. The congressman pissed off conservatives across the country last month when he became the first House Republican to identify as impeachment-curious, saying of the inquiry into Donald Trump, “Let’s put it through the process and see what happens.” Amodei added, “I’m a big fan of oversight, so let’s let the committees get to work and see where it goes.”
Where it went was a firestorm of far-right outrage, with angry conservatives convinced that Amodei had actually called for impeaching Trump. Amodei quickly responded by protesting, “In no way, shape, or form, did I indicate support for impeachment,” but even expressing openness to an inquiry was enough to infuriate not only the rank and file but top Republicans as well. Amodei told the New York Times that he faced the same question from the party’s congressional leaders, the Trump campaign’s political director, and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney: “What the heck are you doing?”
Amodei seemed to recognize how much trouble he was in, snarking, “I’m Brutus, and Trump’s Julius Caesar.” For assassinating his patron, Dante consigned Brutus to the very last circle of hell, to be eternally chewed on in one of Satan’s three mouths, which is probably where many Republicans would like to see Amodei.
However, while he’s repeatedly criticized how congressional Democrats have handled the inquiry, Amodei has said he’s still keeping an open mind about what information it brings to light. Last week, he said he was still “where I was before,” and added, “I don’t know whether it is or isn’t instantly, it’s like, let’s see what happened with some level of credibility, and then you let the chips fall where they are.”
That, naturally, did not appease Trump’s team. This week, the Trump campaign announced that Laxalt and the two top Republicans in the legislature would serve as its state co-chairs for 2020, but Amodei’s name was tellingly left off the list. Amodei was a co-chair in 2016 and is the only Republican left in Nevada’s congressional delegation, making the omission all the more glaring. The congressman even told the Associated Press that the campaign had approached him earlier this year about taking up that role again this cycle and says he prepared a statement accepting the position.
Amodei issued a statement about his snub saying, “Since I have yet to hear from their campaign, your guess is as good as mine.” However, he seemed to know exactly why he’d gotten left out since he continued, “I can only assume that a fake news story from a few weeks ago has obviously created some discomfort for them, so they acted accordingly.” He added, “In today’s political climate, even if a story is proven incorrect, there clearly isn’t any margin for even a wrongful claim.” Of course, there was nothing “fake” about the statements on impeachment that came out of Amodei’s own mouth, making his efforts to sound like a Trump cultist utterly hollow.
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