Runner-up criticizes Nevada GOP Senate nominee Sam Brown while other former rivals back him – Metro US

Runner-up criticizes Nevada GOP Senate nominee Sam Brown while other former rivals back him

Election 2024 Nevada Senate
FILE – Republican senatorial candidate Sam Brown speaks at an election night party June 11, 2024, in Reno, Nev. Brown continued to receive criticism from runner-up Jeff Gunter while other former rivals backed the retired Army captain after he handedly won the GOP nomination (AP Photo/Tom R. Smedes)

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The bitter primary that saw nearly a dozen Republican Senate candidates swipe at retired Army Capt. Sam Brown is fading out of view for some, who say their quest to take down incumbent Democrat Sen. Jacky Rosen trumps any intra-party grievances from the past 11 months.

Not runner-up Jeff Gunter.

“The America First faithful had zero interest in campaigning with him through the entire primary season where he relied on establishment influence and money to slide into a nomination,” Gunter said Wednesday after his distant second-place finish.

The dermatologist and former Trump-appointed Iceland ambassador continued to attack Brown as the establishment candidate in a lengthy statement in which he predicted outright that Rosen would win another term in November.

Gunter’s criticism could complicate early GOP efforts to coalesce around Brown. And it comes as the state Republican Party looks to move past the intra-party rifts in the primary to pivot into what is set to be among the most closely-watched Senate races of the year.

Gunter said former President Donald Trump’s late endorsement of Brown, which came in a social media post hours after he appeared in Nevada before the primary, would not be enough to convince loyal Republicans to support the nominee, who avoided debates and did not engage with the other 11 candidates in the race.

“The base is smart and they do not forget and I think he has a lot to prove before earning their support,” Gunter said.

One of Gunter’s most high-profile supporters, Nevada GOP national committeewoman Sigal Chattah, struck a different tone. She said Wednesday that a historic precedent where Nevada Republicans detract from Republican nominees they don’t like “died last night.”

“Any attempts to marginalize the candidate that was elected will be met with fierce dissent from the party,” Chattah said.

For months, Brown faced criticism from within his own party, who chastised him for skipping debates, flipping his position on the status of the mothballed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, and called him the hand-picked establishment candidate of national Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Brown’s absence became more of a theme than any one policy at primary debates, with candidates explicitly urging voters not to cast their ballots for Brown.

Some of those criticisms echoed Brown’s own messaging from two years ago, when he ran in the Republican primary against Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who garnered dozens of high-profile endorsements. Laxalt defeated Brown in the primary but then lost to Democratic U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto by 8,000 votes, clinching the Senate majority for Democrats.

Chattah had previously criticized Brown for a “lack of integrity” and had pointed to a CNN report that Brown had created a political action committee to help other Republicans, then funneled the money to pay off his unsuccessful 2022 campaign. She said in an interview that her mission now is to defeat Rosen, and discouraged other Republicans from attacking Brown moving forward.

“I don’t do take-backs. So that was my sentiment,” she said when asked about the report. “Regardless of my sentiment, I’m the RNC committeewoman, and I’m a Republican. And I will support the Republican candidate unequivocally.”

Brown did not acknowledge his opponents in his victory speech on Tuesday and instead focused his attention on Rosen and President Joe Biden.

Brown’s campaign again did that in a Wednesday statement when asked about Gunter’s comments.

“Nevada voters are clearly united behind our grassroots campaign to end the Biden-Rosen American Nightmare. And that is what we’re 100% focused on,” said communications director Kristy Wilkinson.

Trump’s endorsement of Brown two days before the primary was a blow to many opponents who had angled to align themselves with the former president, but none more so than Gunter, who had branded himself as “110% pro-Trump.”

In a Monday post on X, between Trump’s endorsement and Brown’s commanding victory, Gunter suggested that Trump, or the people around him, got a “big check” from “the swamp” for endorsing Brown.

Trump campaign adviser Chris LaCivita addressed Gunter directly in his response, saying: “You have a habit of making up crap. President Trump makes his own decisions and this is another example of him choosing wisely.”

Among Brown’s opponents and detractors was former lieutenant governor candidate and Air Force veteran Tony Grady, who had campaigned for Brown during his 2022 insurgent run before running against him this cycle. More recently, Grady had called Brown a “phony politician.”

Grady said he saw Brown “out among the people” more in 2022 than in his 2024 campaign, and that skipping debates was not “necessarily putting a best foot forward.”

“But the reality is, he had a plan for running his campaign and it was successful,” said Grady, who endorsed Brown immediately after his loss and said Brown should have the votes of his supporters moving forward. “At this point, it doesn’t really matter what my thoughts are about him skipping debates. He was successful in winning the primary.”