Nevada GOP on McConnell’s Hand-Picked Senate Candidate: He’s “Just Not The Guy”

Despite backing from DC operatives, Nevada Republicans remain skeptical of Sam Brown

Mitch McConnell’s hand-picked candidate Sam Brown has yet to even launch his campaign for Nevada Senate – and already Silver State Republicans are sounding the alarm. 

A new piece from Cook Political Report details Brown’s laundry list of vulnerabilities – including losing two GOP primaries, most recently by 22 points – that are causing Republicans to openly discuss recruiting “alternative candidates” to join the already crowded GOP primary field. 

Read more about Nevada Republicans’ “hesitancy” around McConnell’s favored candidate and why it’s leading one GOP strategist to say he’s “just not the guy.”

Cook Political Report: National GOP Eyes Brown In Nevada Senate, But In-State Skepticism Lingers

By Jessica Taylor 

  • Operatives in Washington have signaled they will back Sam Brown, a wounded Afghanistan veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, as their favored candidate to take on Rosen, as they’ve pledged to take a more aggressive role in recruiting and supporting candidates this cycle. 
  • It was there in 2014 that Brown launched his first political campaign in a legislative district in the northern Dallas and southern Plano suburbs. […] Positioning himself as a political outsider, Brown would finish third in the race with 27%, behind Koop’s 35% and Carter’s 33%. 
  • In 2022 he aimed for an even higher office: U.S. Senate. He challenged Laxalt — who enjoyed the backing of both Trump and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell — in the primary. 
  • The Club for Growth, which was backing Laxalt, used Brown’s previous Texas political run against him, airing an ad with audio of him saying, “It will literally take an act of God to get me out of Texas… I’m not looking for a lily pad to take a step to the next office.” The narrator concluded, “Sam Brown served with honor, but in Texas he proved he’s a politician.” 
  • One area where Brown did try to differentiate himself was on unproven allegations of election fraud in the 2020 election, attacking Laxalt — who was then Trump’s Nevada co-chair— for not doing enough to challenge the Nevada results. 
  • While national Republicans are boasting about Brown as a top recruit, multiple Nevada GOP sources told us that there is still some hesitancy about the retired Army captain’s candidacy and questions about his ability to seriously challenge Rosen after having yet to win a primary in his two runs for office.
  • “There’s a bit of caution from in-state people,” one veteran Nevada Republican strategist told us. “People in every state always want to have a say in who their nominee is, and it’s not always well-received when it’s D.C. pushing.”
  • But it’s the other potential candidates who have seemingly passed that have left some in Nevada wondering “what if.” Popular former Gov. Brian Sandoval has long been courted to run for the Senate, and came close in 2016, but hasn’t shown much interest this cycle or last. Sources have mentioned both Lt. Gov. Stavros Anthony, who defeated the incumbent Democrat by 3.7 points last November, along with Controller Andy Matthews, who also flipped an open seat from blue to red and got the highest GOP percentage of any statewide candidate, as potentially strong politicians who have already proven they can carry Nevada. 
  • But a third Republican consultant who has worked extensively in Nevada was more blunt, telling us they believe other alternative candidates could still arise.
  • “There has been a thought on Sam Brown for a while that he’s just not the guy. He’s a nice guy, he’d be a very serviceable nominee, but [some are] just not sure he can put it together,” the strategist told us. “I still suspect there to be other people that are not known that will get in and be real players.”
  • There are candidates already in the race or likely to join who both Nevada and Washington Republicans would be united against seeing win the nomination. Atop that list is Jim Marchant, the party’s 2022 nominee for secretary of state and a vocal election denier. He announced his candidacy in May.
  • Former Trump ambassador to Iceland Jeffrey Ross Gunter also sounds likely to run, and could self-fund a bid. […] Both Marchant and Gunter could try to claim the more MAGA-field lane in the primary.
  • While national Republicans will be thrilled if Brown does join the fray soon, as expected, this is a race where the primary may not be completely settled, even if the national party has put its seal of approval on a candidate.


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