At the how-to political Web site CompleteCampaigns.com, curious would-be candidates can find an explainer on what you might need if you decide to run for office. One crucial step before you get started:
Take a personal inventory. Do you have the time, family support, name recognition, fundraising ability, drive to win, and public speaking skills necessary to run a good campaign?
This seems reasonable. However, it appears that Republican Adam Laxalt, who is running for Nevada attorney general, could not put a solid check mark next to "family support" before running. When Laxalt — who is the grandson of former Nevada governor/senator Paul Laxalt (R) and the recently disclosed son of former senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) — announced his campaign in January, his Republican aunt announced she was supporting his opponent, Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller. “I put my name with Ross a long time ago," she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, "and I’m proud to be supporting him. I think he is more competent, more than capable and more than qualified.” And this week, seven of Adam Laxalt's family members wrote a letter to the editor that was published in Thursday's Las Vegas Sun, also announcing their support for Miller. It is titled, "Doing what's best for Nevada."
Know that our message does not originate from a Republican, Democratic or even family affiliation. It has to do with the most basic question all voters must ask themselves when they step into the voting booth, “Who really is the best qualified candidate for attorney general for the state of Nevada?”
Ouch. The Sun reported that four of Laxalt's family members have donated to Miller's campaign. The Reno Gazette-Journal talked to Laxalt's campaign consultant, who did not appear to be pleased about his client's family's political efforts.
... Robert Uithoven responded by saying it was disgusting that internal family differences were being exploited in the campaign. He noted that the Laxalt family is large and many other members support Adam Laxalt.
Perhaps Laxalt can take comfort in the fact that he is far from the first candidate not to win unqualified support from his family. Unfortunately for him, many of those candidates didn't do very well. During Liz Cheney's short-lived bid for a Wyoming Senate seat this cycle, she spent much of her time dealing with family. Her sister, Mary, is a lesbian who recently married her partner. Liz had recently re-affirmed her support of banning same-sex marriage. Their parents, one of whom happens to be a former vice president, released a statement supporting the political hopeful. As a result, Liz and Mary were no longer speaking, and Mary had no intention of supporting her sister's campaign. She sent an e-mail explaining her non-involvement to reporter Jason Zengerle: “By supporting, I mean not working, not contributing, and not voting for (I’m registered in Virginia not Wyoming) ... I am not saying I hope she loses to (Sen. Mike) Enzi.” Cheney ended up dropping out of the race well before the Republican primary, citing health concerns in her family. Former first lady Barbara Bush, meanwhile, has also expressed reservations about the idea of another Bush running for the presidency in 2016. In the latest poll of likely Iowa caucus goers, her son Jeb only gets 4 percent. When Kathleen Brown ran to be California's governor in 1994, she didn't know what to do with her brother, once and future governor Jerry Brown. Jerry was unsure too; Kathleen's longshot opponent in the primary had a platform that looked a lot like his. Kathleen won the primary, if not the general. Somewhat tangentially, in the special election to replace the late Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), the politician's widow and son endorsed different candidates, which led to a confrontation at a candidate forum.
When a reporter asked Beverly Young how these matters had affected her relationship with her son, she tearfully said, "I have no relationship."
And in Illinois, the Madigan family reportedly had a public struggle over power and politics last year. Some family members who don't agree with their more political brethren take the quiet route. Ron Reagan, the liberal son of former president Ronald Reagan, didn't say much about politics until his father left office. These families basically seem to be broadcasting the Thanksgiving feuds of every family in the country, which might explain why the political family that decides to work together has such a good success rate. Getting your family to support your candidacy is the hard part; after that, everything else seems a little easier.