DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a longtime Donald Trump ally, will help lead a political action committee encouraging Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
Laxalt, who roomed with DeSantis while in naval officer training, will serve as the chairman of the Never Back Down super PAC, the organization confirmed Saturday.
Laxalt chaired Trump’s campaign in Nevada in 2020 and has repeated Trump’s false claims of fraud about that race, won by Democrat Joe Biden. Laxalt was a public face of many of Trump campaign’s lawsuits in the swing state that challenged election rules and results. Trump endorsed Laxalt in the 2022 Senate race won by Catherine Cortez Masto, who was considered to be among the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the midterm elections.
But Laxalt has remained a close friend of DeSantis, who is widely expected to announce a White House campaign soon. Both were Navy judge advocate generals and served in Iraq.
Never Back Down was started by Ken Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general who had a high-ranking role in Trump’s Homeland Security Department. The political group has reported raising $30 million.
One wing of the group has been raising money that could be transferred to DeSantis should he get in the 2024 race. A different wing has begun running pro-DeSantis ads and pushing back aggressively against Trump in what’s increasingly become a bitter campaign.
Trump’s campaign on Friday criticized DeSantis’ management of the state where they both live, saying that “Florida continues to tumble into complete and total delinquency and destruction.” Never Back Down responded on Saturday by offering “financial assistance” for Trump to move to California.
Prominent Republican operative Jeff Roe, who worked on Laxalt’s unsuccessful campaigns in 2018 for governor and last year for Senate, began as an advisor to Never Back Down last month.
This story has been corrected to reflect that Laxalt and DeSantis were roommates in naval officer training, not the Naval Justice School.