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Remembering Paul Laxalt, former NV Governor, US Senator (Kolo TV-n) Errebisa


He was a Basque sheepherder's son who became governor, US senator, a close ally and confident to a president. He died Monday at age 96.

Lotura: KoloTV

Ed Pearce. Those of us who covered Paul Laxalt's public life probably knew him better than we know today's public figures.

The state was smaller then in many ways. Local press got closer in those days than they do now and Laxalt had a mostly positive relationship with the media.

He was a natural politician, professional, but personal, polished without being slick.

Few, if any, knew him better than Ed Allison.

"I first met him when I was playing high school football. He was the district attorney and he was the kind of guy who even if we lost would come into the locker room and say 'Good game, boys.'"

Allison would later be the Carson City editor who defied corporate ownership by endorsing the local boy when Laxalt ran for Lieutenant Governor. He then served as press secretary during his term as governor, the later followed him to Washington as Chief of Staff in his Senate office.

Laxalt's political career paralleled that of Ronald Reagan.

The two served as governors of neighboring states, working together on issues like Lake Tahoe. In Washington he was the president's close friend and confidant and in the Senate, he had a reputation as a straight shooter, working well across the aisle and forging friendships across the political spectrum.

"Senator Kennedy and he passed a very significant judicial reform bill," says Allison, "and sometimes on the way home he'd pass by where Kennedy's house was and visit. So, it just wasn't the rancor and viciousness that there appears to be there now."

But his ties to his home state remained close. He helped put Nevada issues, a Western point of view into the national conversation.

Though often described as ambitious, he twice walked away from public life, declining to run for a second term as governor for personal reasons, Allison says, and then for a third term in the Senate.

"Number one, the Senate was turning into a hateful, nasty place. Nothing like it is today, but comparatively it was getting nasty. He and Jake Garn and Senator Long, senators from both parties, decided to leave. That was one of the main reasons and another reason was they were just tired of asking for money, Ed, to be candid with you."

Allison says Laxalt's accomplishments as a fiscally conservative but activist governor are still evident today.

"Father of the community college, the medical school, the bi-state compact commission and corporate gaming, which was really in a crisis as you know."

"He also was somewhat of a pioneer in fair housing. He also appointed the first black to the governor's cabinet, Willie Wynn. He was a very, very decent man and held those standards throughout all of his political career. Just as decent and as home grown as you're going to get."

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