Former President Donald Trump speaks during a “commit to caucus” event in Reno, Nev., in December. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post file

Donald Trump heads to Nevada on Saturday after a lucrative sweep of California fundraisers that are expected to raise more than $20 million for his effort as he accelerates his pace on the campaign trail a week after he was convicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

Trump raised $12 million Thursday night at a San Francisco fundraiser hosted by tech entrepreneur David Sacks before heading to two sold-out fundraisers in Beverly Hills and Newport Beach at a moment when his campaign has been racing to catch up with the Biden campaign’s enormous cash advantage. Trump will campaign on Sunday in Las Vegas as he vies to become the first Republican to win the state in two decades at a moment when polls suggest that Biden is struggling to excite younger voters and Hispanic voters who were key to his 2020 victory.

As voters contend with soaring housing prices and stubborn inflation, Trump has held an edge over President Biden in several recent polls in Nevada, which Biden won in 2020 by fewer than 34,000 votes, or 2.4 percentage points. A recent New York Times/Siena College poll showed Trump gaining support among Latino voters and younger voters in Nevada, a reflection of the frustration many voters feel about rising prices and high interest rates that have made it increasingly difficult for younger Nevadans to purchase a home.

Karoline Leavitt, national press secretary for the Trump 2024 campaign, contended that the former president is “dominating” in the state “because hard-working Nevadans, especially Hispanic Americans, are suffering from Biden’s inflation and living on the front lines of his open border crisis.”

The Biden campaign assembled Nevada workers and leaders from several local unions for a news conference Friday to accuse Trump of gutting worker protections and pushing for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Deanne “Dee” Mattera, assistant business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 357, called Trump a “convicted white-collar felon who is trying to win by selling out to billionaires on the backs of Nevada workers.”

“Trump ran the country just like he ran his business – by screwing over workers – and he’ll do it again if he’s elected,” Mattera said at the Las Vegas event.

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Trump plans to attend a Las Vegas fundraiser on Saturday night hosted by construction equipment magnate and billionaire Don Ahern that is expected to bring in $5 million for Trump’s joint fundraising committee, which allocates money to Trump’s campaign, his leadership PAC, the Republican National Committee and more than 40 state party committees.

The Nevada Independent reported Friday that the Nevada Republican Party’s bylaws prevent it from supporting a candidate who has been convicted of a felony, but members of the party met recently to waive those rules. The Nevada GOP chairman and other party officials did not respond to queries about the recent vote.

The former president is arriving three days before the Nevada Senate primary, where three Republicans with ties to the former president are vying to take on Democratic incumbent Jacky Rosen in the general election.

For months, Trump has dangled the possibility of endorsing retired Army captain Sam Brown, the National Republican Senatorial Committee-backed candidate and Purple Heart recipient who is favored to win Tuesday’s contest. Brown ran for Senate in 2022 but lost his bid for the Republican nomination to former Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt – who was defeated by Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in one of the closest Senate races in the country.

The other two candidates in the primary are Jeff Gunter, Trump’s former ambassador to Iceland, and Jim Marchant, who previously ran an unsuccessful campaign to be Nevada’s secretary of state and has championed Trump’s falsehoods about the 2020 election.

Brown, who was wounded by an explosion while serving in Afghanistan in 2008 and survived burns that covered 30% of his body, was recruited to run by NRSC chair Sen. Steve Daines and other GOP leaders including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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But Gunter, an independently wealthy physician, has cast Brown as a pawn of the Washington establishment while playing up his connection to Trump, including with an ad that introduced him as “Trump’s ambassador” and stated that he is “110% pro-Trump.”

Among the various complicated alliances, Don and Carolyn Ahern, the co-hosts of the Saturday night fundraiser for the Trump 47 committee, are backing Gunter.

“This race is MAGA vs Mitch,” Gunter recently wrote on X. “Which side are you on?”

Still, Trump took time to meet with Brown and his wife, Amy, for an in-depth conversation earlier this year when he was in Nevada for a rally before the state’s GOP presidential caucus. He recently met again with the couple at Mar-a-Lago.

Democrats have attempted to cast Brown as an extreme MAGA Republican, accusing him of shifting his position on issues like abortion to win in this key swing state. Brown has said he would not support a national abortion ban – a stance now shared by Trump – and that he would not attempt to change Nevada’s abortion law.

Democrats have sought to remind voters that Brown previously backed a 20-week ban on abortion while living in Texas and that he has opposed exceptions for rape and incest in the past. Dismissing those attacks, Brown has emphasized during this campaign that he will support Nevada’s law permitting abortion up to 24 weeks and says abortion restrictions should be determined state by state.

Various Democratic groups allied with Biden ramped up their ad buys this week in Western states to provide an ample dose of counterprogramming timed to Trump’s visits, as part of a broader $50 million push. Climate Power and Future Forward USA placed a $5.7 million ad buy in Arizona and Nevada that began on Friday and will stretch through mid-July, according to data from AdImpact.

 

Hannah Knowles and Josh Dawsey contributed to this report.

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