Nevada Newsmakers

Robert Laxalt torn between his art, love for his brother, Paul Laxalt, in 1974 U.S. Senate election

News - March 9, 2023

Robert Laxalt, with his reporter's roots, never fully trusted politicians -- except for his brother Paul, whose lifetime saw him serve as Nevada's governor, lieutenant governor and U.S. Senator.

In Paul Laxalt's most decisive campaign of his career -- Nevada's 1974 U.S. Senate election -- Paul's politics and Robert's book, Sweet Promised Land, were entwined in a way that caused friction among friends and the extended family of Dominique's and Theresa Laxalt's children.

"So there are a lot of wonderful, wonderful things about the Laxalt family but there are also some problem areas," Monique Laxalt, Robert's daughter said in an interview.

In 1973, Nevada's entrenched U.S. Sen. Alan Bible shocked the state's political class by announcing he would not run for re-election.

Speculation was wild on who would replace him after the 1974 election. Republicans focused on Laxalt, who had left the governor's mansion in 1970 to build the Ormsby House Hotel & Casino in Carson City.

Eventually the Democrats landed on their candidate, too, Lt. Gov. Harry Reid, then just 33.

As is the tradition of Nevada's senatorial elections, the 1974 campaign was a tight race. Paul Laxalt needed a boost.

Laxalt's political team suggested the campaign re-issue Robert Laxalt's Sweet Promised Land in a special edition as a way to reintroduce his brother, Paul, to the people and paint him as a son of a sheepherder, an iconic Nevada "every-man" who rose up from a hardscrabble upbringing and made good.

The unfolding drama was defined by Warren Lerude, a former Reno Gazette-Journal editor and publisher in his book, Robert Laxalt, The Story of a Storyteller:

"Harry Reid was winning," Lerude wrote, recalling the opinion for a former great Nevada pollster, Wayne Pearson, who died in 2019. "And Harry Reid was in the news. He was the headlines. He was a public official. Paul (Laxalt) had stepped out of the governor's job to build a hotel. Four years later, not everybody knew who Paul Laxalt was.

"What they (Paul's campaign) said to Bob, basically, was reintroduce him (Paul) to the voting public through an epilogue to tell the people that he is the son of a sheepherder.”

Robert Laxalt was not warm to the idea but loved his brother, said Monique Laxalt, who wrote about her father's dilemma in her book, The Deep Blue Memory.

"What I wrote in the book, when his brothers asked him to use Sweet Promised Land for politics, I wrote that the look of confusion in my dad's eyes was as deep as anything," Monique said. "He knew the value of art as art and he also knew his love for his brother. And he was just caught right in the middle."

While the campaign wanted him to do it, others pushed back.

"Bill Douglass (member of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame and founder of the Center for Basque Studies) argued with Bob and told Bob this book belongs to the Basque people," Lerude wrote.

"Bob was torn between the art and the blood," said Lerude, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for editorial writing in 1977. "Is he going to help his brother or just protect the art?

"What are you going to do?" Lerude asked. "You protect your brother."

"And so he did that, which is admirable from a human standpoint but it doesn't satisfy the Bill Douglass' attitude that it is not a political book. So you have a natural disagreement on that."

The decision threw her father's writing out of kilter, Monique said.

"The typewriter lost its cadence," she recalled. "His internal sense of consistency as to who he was and what he was to do in life was thrown off. And he, at least for a certain span of time, lost the fluidity of the writing."

Laxalt beat Reid by 624 votes and remained in the U.S. Senate until 1987.

Political strategist Jerry Dondero told Lerude the use of Sweet Promised Land had put Laxalt over the top.

"You can attribute the election win to that book," Dondero said.

During Ronald Reagan's presidency that began in 1981, Paul Laxalt became a trusted Reagan adviser and one of the most powerful Republicans in Washington D.C.

He was often called Reagan's "First Friend," referring to a close relationship that developed in the 1960s, when Laxalt was Nevada's governor and Reagan was California's governor. Laxalt was also the chair of three of Reagan's presidential campaigns.

Read full article

Recent Articles:

Robert Laxalt remembered as one of the great authors in Nevada's history
News - March 9, 2023

"His legacy is... the writing of beautiful books, which could only have been written with honesty, simplicity, humility and a God-given gift for language and for story telling and for a love of life." Monique Laxalt, attorney, author and daughter of Robert Laxalt

Storey County, 'destitute for 100 years,' should not be forced to share expected Tesla tax windfall with Washoe, Reno or Sparks, TRI executive says
News - February 16, 2023

"And it doesn't all get spent in Storey County. We've got Burger King and one gas station. The vast majority of that payroll cash goes into Washoe County." Kris Thompson, TRI project manager, on where TRI's estimated annual payroll of about $1 billion is spent

Sparks' Mayor Lawson wants no part of legal marijuana consumption lounges
News - February 8, 2023

"So if we have a fight, a medical emergency, anything that happens and our officers and fire personnel go into one (marijuana lounge) to rescue someone ... and then the next day, it comes up on a random drug test that they have marijuana (in their system), because they absorbed it through their skin, hair or however else, even inhaling it while they are in the lounge, then how do I deal with that?" Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson

Tesla expansion will put more strain on Reno, Sparks infrastructure and cities may need help from Legislature to solve problem, Sparks mayor says
News - February 6, 2023

"We could have 50,000 jobs in Storey County and we take the bulk of that pressure because they are going to come live with us." Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson

Unelected staffer on powerful U.S. Senate committee is blocking land transfers in Nevada, Rep. Amodei says
News - February 2, 2023

"The problem is that on the Senate Natural Resources Committee, you've got an individual who has decided that lands bills are evil..." U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City

Developer Norman wants to build, finance a ring road around Fernley to help industrial expansion, Gilman says
News - January 24, 2023

"Right now, there is a real traffic, trucking problem in downtown Fernley. You've got to run through the local streets, so the ring road would have to go in." Developer Lance Gilman

Las Vegas' 'No. 1 issue' is homelessness, says mayor candidate, former U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley
News - January 23, 2023

"I don't believe in warehousing the homeless, I don't believe in busing them to locations outside the city limits. That is cruel and really doesn't solve the problem." Former U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, now running for mayor of Las Vegas

Legislature expected to consider 'supplemental airport' for Las Vegas in Ivanpah Valley, gaming executive says
News - January 19, 2023

"We are very close to hitting the limit at (the Harry) Reid Airport on just how many people the city can bring in and get out in a timely manner." Andrew Diss, senior vice-president and chief strategy officer of Meruelo Gaming

Developer Tolles welcomes return of pre-pandemic office culture, touts investment in business hotels with strong points programs
News - January 18, 2023

"Listen, I'm an in-the-office guy, old school all day long." Par Tolles

Northern Nevada 'industrial eco-system' moving east of Reno/Sparks, developer Tolles says
News - January 17, 2023

"Land is more and more difficult to come by both in Northern and Southern Nevada. The Truckee Meadows, if you will, from the airport to north of Stead is getting to the point where it is almost built out. So we have to go east and you can talk about all of those budding sub-markets, Silver Springs or Fernley, even Hazen." Par Tolles, Nevada developer

Attack ads boost Chattah's law practice, but helped destroy her, 2 other Republicans in 2022 election 'smear campaign,' she says
News - December 21, 2022

"Even before I tossed my name into the race, I was very well-advised that Republicans eat their own." Sigal Chattah, Republican candidate for attorney general, 2022

Residence Inn coming to Tamarack Casino in Reno; Marriott hotel also considered for Carson Valley, Pegram says
News - December 13, 2022

"I think we will be very successful with that (Marriott) brand. Any time you can team with Marriott -- as a matter of fact -- we're in discussions right now to add another (Marriott) product in the Carson Valley. It will be in the 100-room range." Mike Pegram, co-owner, Tamarack Casino, Carson Valley Inn

Nevada 'in driver's seat' for electric energy future, with lithium mining, battery production and recycling, Business & Industry leader says
News - December 12, 2022

"We are going to go to the full cycle of being able to mine, produce and recycle (lithium). We're going to have all of those components within our state. That's a game changer for Nevada. And we'll be the only state in the United States that has that." Terry Reynolds, director, NV Dept. of Business and Industry

Southwest Airlines considers 'incredible expansion' in Las Vegas, state Business & Industry director says
News - December 9, 2022

..."We talked to Southwest Airlines and I know they are looking at an incredible expansion on the number of flights that they have coming into Las Vegas..." Terry Reynolds, Director, Nevada Department of Business and Industry

Ahern would love to welcome A's proposed ballpark to north Las Vegas Strip 'neighborhood'
News - November 3, 2022

"What is clear to me is that these younger generations, younger than me, are really involved in sports. It's a sports world. I don't think there is any end to it. I think they can put as many stadiums as they want in this town and just keep on coming with it all." Don Ahern, owner of the Ahern Hotel and Ahern Equipment Rentals

Las Vegas Mayor critical of Gov. Sisolak's mandate to close schools during pandemic
News - October 31, 2022

"All of our kids were behind to begin with, children in every grade level. And now they are another year-and-a-half behind from they were before, which is why we are ranked now as far down as 50th." Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, on why she opposed the shuttering of Nevada schools during covid pandemic

Acting chancellor of Nevada's higher education system says he'll retire 'at the end of this job'
News - October 6, 2022

"This is my last job in public service." Dale Erquiaga, acting chancellor of Nevada System of Higher Education

Amodei swings, misses on Fallon Naval Air Station expansion, hopes U.S. Senate can do better
News - October 5, 2022

"You know, they haven't passed a (Nevada) lands bill since Harry Reid was in the Senate." U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City

Next Page Last Page