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FIRST ON FOX: A battle is raging among those close to former President Trump over who he should endorse in Nevada's brutal Republican Senate primary, which has turned heads in recent months.

Accusations of "disloyalty" have taken center stage in the fight, with multiple sources close to Trump and his campaign telling Fox News Digital about an ongoing effort to sway the former president as he considers swooping in to back either Army veteran Sam Brown or former U.S. Ambassador to Iceland Jeff Gunter ahead of Tuesday's primary.

A vocal group of Trump insiders in favor of Gunter becoming the Republican nominee to face incumbent Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen has sought to highlight Brown's hesitancy to back Trump in the early months of the Republican presidential race, something he did only days ahead of the Iowa caucuses in January when victory for Trump was all but guaranteed.


Nevada Republican Senate candidates

From left to right, dermatologist and former U.S. Ambassador to Iceland Dr. Jeffrey Gunter, former President Trump and former U.S. Army Capt. Sam Brown (State Department/Getty Images/Sam Brown for Nevada)

A separate group of Trump insiders backing Brown is challenging that notion, telling Fox the pro-Gunter faction is "lying" about Brown's perceived "disloyalty" and that the former president will "likely" back him ahead of the primary, potentially at his Las Vegas rally on Sunday.

"Sam Brown is not seen as a loyal America First fighter," one source close to Trump's family and his campaign told Fox. "He's not seen as a loyal ally to President Trump. That's something I've definitely heard multiple times. I wouldn't go so far as to say there is any fierce hatred of him, but he's not seen as a strong America First fighter." 

"The president has endorsed in all of these races, and in this one he hasn't, so it's not all that hard to read between the lines here," the source said, pointing to the timing of Brown's endorsement of Trump, as well as an interview with Punchbowl News published the day after Trump's indictment in Fulton County, Georgia, last August in which Brown declined to say whether he was "comfortable" sharing the Republican ticket with the former president.

Nevada's Republican primary is the only battleground Senate race that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which is backing Brown, has weighed in on where Trump has so far declined to endorse a candidate. Trump endorsed Montana's Tim Sheehy, Ohio's Bernie Moreno and Michigan's Mike Rogers all before their respective primaries.

Trump endorsed Nevada Republican John Lee, a candidate for the U.S. House, on Monday. A day after the endorsement, he posted a video on Truth Social encouraging Nevadans to vote next week but notably made no mention of Brown or Gunter.


Jacky Rosen

Sen. Jacky Rosen waits to speak during a groundbreaking ceremony at the Brightline West Las Vegas station on April 22, 2024. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The reason for that, the source said, is twofold; Trump is reluctant to pick a fight with national, establishment Republicans and endorsing the NRSC-backed candidate would "undermine his message to the base" that he is fighting to bring to the table "loyal America First fighters."

"That's probably the only part of this that's really propping Sam up. He's run multiple times and lost, he doesn't have very much energy or enthusiasm, he does very little media … he'll put out cookie-cutter tweets and do an interview every once in a while, but he's not like on the front lines fighting for the president day in and day out."

Another like-minded source close to Trump conceded that Brown's backing from the NRSC, what he called "Mitch McConnell money," gave the candidate "leverage" for gaining Trump's support but argued the real question was whether Republicans were willing to "nominate someone who is not going to support the president."

"In the past he's been dismissive of Trump, and that's the rub right now that Nevadans are trying to sift through," the source said. "I don't need another Mitt Romney in the U.S. Senate. I need a candidate who's going to win and represent Nevadans and the Republican movement, and I don't know if that's Sam Brown."

Both sources predicted Trump would remain neutral in the race and forego making an endorsement ahead of the primary, but also said the unpredictability of the former president could mean a last minute weigh-in.


Jeff Gunter

Former U.S. Ambassador to Iceland Dr. Jeff Gunter speaks with Roll Call at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City, Nevada, on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2024. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

"If he does endorse, I think he would endorse Jeff. I think, at this point, the NRSC has pushed so hard for him to endorse Sam, but he hasn't done it, and there's a reason for that," one of them said.

A source from the pro-Brown camp, who said they recently spoke with Trump, took a different view, telling Fox the claims made by the pro-Gunter sources were "simply just not accurate."

"[Trump] thinks Gunter is a weirdo, and served him poorly as ambassador," the source said, adding that the reason Trump had yet to endorse Brown was not anything out of the ordinary.

"He just is never quick to do these things unless he has a long-standing relationship. In all the conversations, especially given that Sam was literally the top door-knocker for Donald Trump in the 2016 race and was an original grassroots MAGA guy, that is just something that's not factoring in any serious way. It's what people who want him not to do it are trying to push," they added.

The source predicted with "a really high level of confidence" that Trump would ultimately endorse Brown ahead of the Tuesday primary, saying the Sunday Las Vegas rally was the "logical" place to do it, but, if not, then it would be shortly after.


Sam Brown

Republican Nevada Senate candidate, former Army Capt. Sam Brown (Sam Brown for Nevada)

Another source who said they had spoken with Trump about the Nevada race on "three or four occasions" told Fox that Trump had a "productive" meeting with Brown when he visited Mar-a-Lago earlier this year and believed he would ultimately win the race.

The source also pointed to the sparse polling done on the race so far that suggested Brown was a heavy favorite to win the primary, his past support for Trump before launching his second campaign for Senate, as well as his open support for the former president since endorsing him in January.

"California Democrat Jeff Gunter is a scam artist who paid himself and his consultants millions of dollars from his campaign. Gunter continues cutting his ad buys because he lied about how much money he would self-fund on his campaign. Voters can’t trust California Democrat Jeff Gunter," NRSC communications director Mike Berg told Fox, referencing a shift in the Gunter campaign's spending on ad buys that appeared to show him reducing the amount he initially announced he would spend across the state.

Gunter's campaign pushed back when pressed on the spending change, telling Fox the campaign was not cutting spending, but rather shifting to other sources of digital and Spanish language advertising. It added that $3 million had already gone out the door, citing Gunter's FEC reports, and "wasn't disputable."

"The NRSC has shown they are incapable of both advocating for America First principles and running a race in a skillful or articulate manner," a source close to Gunter's campaign told Fox.


Donald Trump

Former President Trump is seen in attendance during the UFC 302 event at Prudential Center on June 1, 2024, in Newark, New Jersey. (Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Brown told Fox, "I supported President Trump in 2016 and knocked doors for him in 2020. I've always believed in his vision for America and I continue to stand by him today. I look forward to working with President Trump to win Nevada this November and would be honored to receive his endorsement."

Fox has also reached out to the Trump campaign for comment.

Nevada Democrats are having their own fun in the meantime, using the fact that Trump has not endorsed Brown to take digs at the candidate, including in multiple posts pointing out Trump making no mention of him in his video calling on Nevadans to vote.

"After begging at Mar-A-Lago, calling Trump his personal inspiration, and embarking on a far-right media tour to tout his MAGA credentials, it’s deeply embarrassing that Sam Brown still doesn’t have the Donald Trump stamp of approval he’s so desperately seeking," Nevada state Democrat Party spokesperson Katharine Kurz told Fox. 


"While Sam Brown continues stumbling over himself to suck up to Donald Trump, he’s also proving to voters that he will always put partisan politics over doing what’s right for Nevadans."

Brown and Gunter are facing a crowded primary field that includes former state Rep. Jim Marchant and veteran Air Force pilot Tony Grady. The winner of Tuesday's primary is expected to face Rosen in the November general election.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.