LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Republican challenger to Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada conceded on Tuesday that he lost, saying in a statement that although the race was very close, he won’t contest the result.
“I am confident that any challenge of this election would not alter the ultimate outcome,” GOP candidate Adam Laxalt said in a tweet that campaign adviser Robert Uithoven confirmed was authentic.
Laxalt, who had the vocal endorsement of former President Donald Trump, said he called Cortez Masto to congratulate her on her victory. The Associated Press called the race on Saturday, declaring Cortez Masto the winner.
Cortez Masto’s campaign did not immediately respond to messages about Laxalt’s concession. It came a week after the Nov. 8 election.
Laxalt told the AP more than a year ago that he was preparing to mount legal challenges to the outcome of the 2022 election. In his Twitter statement on Tuesday, he said Republicans “will either have to fix our election laws or better adjust to them and to the tactics used against us.”
“Nevada’s new elections laws enacted two years ago allowed for massive ballot harvesting and votes dropped off at drop boxes and polling places on Election Day,” Laxalt said. “This is not a form of voting Republican voters prefer, so as those ballots were tabulated, they skewed heavily towards Democrats up and down the ballot, including our opponent.”
Nevada’s vote count took several days partly because of the Legislature in 2020 adopted a law requiring counties to accept ballots postmarked by Election Day if they arrive up to four days later. Laxalt had an early lead that dwindled after late-counted ballots came in from the state’s population centers in Las Vegas and Reno.
Cortez Masto’s win, along with Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly’s victory in Arizona, gave Democrats a 50-49 edge in the Senate. Along with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote, the party will retain control of the chamber no matter the result of next month’s Georgia runoff between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican candidate Herschel Walker.
Cortez Masto, the first Latina to serve in the Senate, was considered the most vulnerable Democratic senator in the midterm elections, and the Republican Party had high hopes of flipping the seat.
She raised far more money than Laxalt, but had to weather an onslaught of attack ads funded by national GOP groups. Cortez Masto spent nearly $47 million and had more than $6 million in cash on hand through mid-October, according to OpenSecrets, a nonprofit that tracks campaign finances and lobbying. Laxalt spent nearly $13 million and had about $3 million remaining during the same time.
Cortez Masto is a former two-term state attorney general. She focused her Senate campaign on threats to abortion access nationwide and worked to court the state’s Spanish-speaking residents and hourly wage earners. She pointed out her support of a permanent pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers” and regularly visited union halls and workers’ groups.
Laxalt, also a former state attorney general, lost a bid for governor in 2018. He co-chaired Trump’s failed campaign in Nevada in 2020, and spent months leading efforts in the media and in courts to challenge the result as fraudulent.
He insisted that ineligible and dead voters cast ballots, that laws adopted by the Democratic-led Legislature to send mail-in ballots to every active voter invited fraud, and that Republican observers were prevented from seeing ballot counting or challenging signatures on mail-in ballots.
Only a case to keep some Las Vegas-area polling places open until people in line had cast ballots briefly survived court scrutiny. Like all the others, it was later dismissed.
“I entered this arena for my family and those all over Nevada and America who believe our country is headed in the wrong direction,” Laxalt, an attorney, said in his statement on Tuesday. He said he will “return to private life and private practice.”
“This race and the 2022 election cycle didn’t go as we hoped,” he said, “but I am proud of the race that we ran.”
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