LAS VEGAS, Nevada — When now-retired U.S. Army Captain Sam Brown’s platoon was called to support another platoon under fire in Helmand Province in Afghanistan, he led his men to help respond, but before they got there a tragedy that would change his life forever seriously injured him and three others while killing a fifth in his unit.
Brown, now the leading Republican candidate for U.S. Senate here in Nevada in 2024, told the story at length in an exclusive Breitbart News interview.
An improvised explosive device, or IED, went off as Brown’s platoon was racing to the scene to help the other platoon under fire. The bomb killed one of his men and hurt three others. Brown himself was left with serious burns all over his body, damage that would force him off the battlefield and back home to the United States.
“The day that I got wounded we were supporting this international mission—the U.S., the Brits, Canadians, Afghans, and other coalition countries—and we were working on moving this turbine to a dam on the Helmand River,” Brown told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview here. “So we were part of this sort of security element for that. One of the fellow platoons in my company—a fellow platoon—was attacked and ambushed during that operation. We were the nearest friendly forces to respond and provide support. As we were moving into position to provide support that’s when my vehicle hit the roadside bomb and left me with really severe burns, wounded three of my guys, and killed one of my guys.”
After the bomb, Brown was medically evacuated back to San Antonio, Texas, to the Brooke Army Medical Center. The burns were so severe it would end up taking him three years to recover, but when he got there he wanted to go right back to Afghanistan, back to the front lines with his unit.
“I was medevacked back to San Antonio to the Brooke Army Medical Center there,” Brown said. “At the time, I was—I still believed for months that I was going to be able to recover. I thought that ‘oh, hey, Doc patch me up, get me better, send me back to my guys.’ It took me months to really reconcile just how bad off I really was. It turned into a three-year recovery instead of just what I was hoping would be a couple of months.”
Inside the intensive care unit, while he was in a medically induced coma wrapped up in gauze, is how his wife Amy first met him. Amy was a dietitian in the burn unit, and Brown—worried that the scars he now bore would prevent him from finding a life partner—ended up falling in love with her.
“My wife first met me when I was in the ICU, in a medically induced coma wrapped with gauze,” Brown said. “I looked literally like a mummy wrapped head to toe. That’s how she first encountered me. She sort of tracked my recovery and one of the things that, I guess because I couldn’t be down-range with my guys, I looked for ways to sort of help and encourage others. So in the midst of my recovery I would check in with my healthcare providers and say ‘is there anything I can do for you?’ or ‘is there anyone else I can go encourage?’ I’d do these things to take my mind off my own pain and my own recovery, and I guess Amy saw that and was attracted to that. My toughest moment in the recovery was not the physical pain and the rehabilitation from that. It was my heart was breaking because I had given myself to my nation and I had come back so severely disfigured and wounded that I was struggling to believe that anyone would ever love me for who I am because I looked so grotesque at the time. A chaplain one day, I was talking to him, he said ‘Sam: don’t worry, one day you’ll meet someone who sees through your scars and sees your heart and falls in love with who you are there.’ He was right. Amy did. She loved me despite my condition and the long journey we had ahead of us and married me. We’ve been married for almost 15 years now and we’ve got three beautiful children—a 12-year-old son, a 10-year-old daughter, and an 8-year-old son. They’re the joy of our life and we both feel a strong conviction.”
Amy served in the military too, and was deployed to Iraq after she and Sam married. Brown said that devotion to the nation is a huge part of why he has stepped up to run for the U.S. Senate in Nevada this year.
“Amy also served in the military. She actually deployed to Iraq after we got married. We just love this country so much,” Brown said. “The generation of Americans who are not in a position to set the conditions or the circumstances of what the next will inherit as adults, that’s part of what drives us in this pursuit of running for the U.S. Senate.”
After he recovered from the burns, Brown got his MBA and then built a business in Texas before their family moved to Nevada in 2018. Brown ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for Senate in 2022, losing in the primary to Adam Laxalt, but his stronger-than-expected performance and powerful personal story that came to light in that race inspired national Republicans to recruit him to run again this year. Now, he’s off to the races and far outraising the handful of primary opponents he faces and is expected to be the GOP nominee for Senate in Nevada this year after the primaries in the summer. And Democrats nationally are taking notice, too, as a recent report from Politico noted that national Democrats have already reserved a whopping $36 million worth of airtime in the Silver State in the Senate race where Brown is expected to face incumbent Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) in November—with more likely on the way.
That’s the most Democrats have reserved in any state, including the two biggest states they’re defending in Montana and Ohio, a sign Brown says they are terrified of him.
“To me, it’s one of the strongest indicators yet that Nevada is going to be one of the most contentious states and one of the best opportunities for us,” Brown told Breitbart News when asked about the gargantuan Democrat ad reservations. “The Democrats are seeing numbers that they fear. There’s no reason they would invest or commit that much money early on. There’s certain to be more as well. I take that as a really good sign for us. Here’s the dynamic: This is a David versus Goliath type race. Jacky Rosen, as you might recall, was handpicked by Harry Reid at the height of his power and was effectively guided in through her Senate race back in 2018. She has had just this cordon of power protecting her and installing her since she first got into office. That continues through Chuck Schumer today. Whereas, contrasting that to who I am and my campaign. This is a campaign that is powered by grassroots. Four years ago, I was a small business owner and a family man who in my off time was out knocking doors and rallying for President Trump in his reelection. Today, to be a frontrunner candidate with 94 percent of my donors being small dollar donors, this is a true David versus Goliath moment and frankly something I’m excited about.”
Brown added that the energy on the ground in Nevada throughout the state is far more palpable for former President Donald Trump and for him than it is for Democrats such as Rosen or President Joe Biden.
“One hundred percent they feel it,” Brown added. “When you look at where people are energized, you have people who get energized positively about something and you have people who get energized negatively about something. The Democrats are really failing right now to create any sort of energy around their candidates. In fact, with the presidential, kind-of primary on their side—we have the caucus on our side—Steve Sisolak was out there along with Gavin Newsom campaigning for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. They literally had an event as someone’s garage and had maybe 30 or 40 people there. On the same, President Trump had thousands of people at his rally to caucus event this past Saturday. So there is a huge disconnect between the energy in this state and what people believe in.”
Asked what he sees are the major issues in this race, referencing exit polling from primaries and caucuses in New Hampshire and Iowa that showed the top issues there are immigration and the economy, Brown said it’s a similar feel in Nevada.
“Those two issues [immigration and the economy] are major concerns for Nevadans as well,” Brown said. “The tragedy of the border crisis is it doesn’t have to be this way. President Trump demonstrated what securing the border looks like. Joe Biden has those same tools at his disposal yet has done nothing but pursue legislation to ‘give him the power,’ but that’s a bald-faced lie and I believe that people see through that. The thing about Jacky Rosen that is specifically offensive to folks is she sits on the Homeland Security Committee. She has had for the last five years direct oversight. She should be helping hold the administration accountable on our border policies. Yet, it wasn’t until I started calling her out that she returned to the border for the first time about two weeks ago. Her previous visit to the border was in July of 2019. This is a dereliction of duty and it’s something Nevadans are fed up with.”
The economic downturn the nation has seen under Biden as president is even more profound in Nevada, Brown said.
“On the economy, that is a bundle of issues. Here’s the sad reality for us here. We have the highest unemployment in the nation,” Brown said. “By the way, we see there are major companies out there that are laying off tens of thousands of people in recent days. Nevada is almost always hit the hardest when we have layoffs and when we have a downturn. But we have the highest unemployment in the nation. We also have the highest gas prices in the nation, so when people go to the fuel pump we have the highest prices in the nation as well. So, that combination makes affordability of living really tough on folks. We’ve got a senator who just yesterday, Jacky Rosen tweeted, demanding the Fed lower interest rates to help people with affordability. She doesn’t understand economics—and it’s not her place to make that demand anyway. She has the tools at her disposal. Why don’t we cut government spending? Why don’t we return back to American energy independence? Those are things within her purview that would help Nevadans.”
In addition to immigration and the economy, Brown said education is a huge focus for Nevada voters—and the Democrats under former Gov. Steve Sisolak and now with their legislature majorities as well as from national elected leaders like Rosen have blocked efforts to help parents and students in the classroom.
“So you have the border, you have the economy, you have energy kind of bundled in there, but the next big issue that really impacts voters here is education,” Brown said. “Our schools, unfortunately, rank with the lowest performing scores in the whole country. The Democrats have just continued to sell out their agenda and their policies which are driven by the teachers unions. This has reduced access to school choice for parents and for students. In fact, our governor, one of the things he ran on was trying to increase opportunity for parents and students in this last legislative session and the Democrat-controlled Assembly here just stonewalled it and shut it down. This is something that we’ve got to get creative and help empower parents to be able to deal with these failing schools and these policies of the teachers unions.”
Nevada is the one state in the union in 2022 where Republicans flipped a governor’s mansion from Democrat control to GOP hands, with now-Gov. Joe Lombardo defeating Sisolak there. Laxalt came extremely close too in the Senate race but was ultimately unsuccessful. A big part of Lombardo’s victory was the tourism-dependent Nevada blamed Sisolak for extremely restrictive COVID lockdowns, but also the economic pain the Democrats caused Nevadans using the pandemic. Brown said that pain continues to this day as small businesses still have not recovered from Biden and Sisolak and other Democrats did to them using the coronavirus pandemic, and thinks that will fuel a shift further toward the GOP in this upcoming November 2024 election at both the presidential and senatorial levels.
“I do believe that there will be a sort of a continuation of having to reconcile where we’re at,” Brown said. “A lot of pain was inflicted upon Nevadans during COVID under Sisolak’s orders and Biden as well. This is something that a lot of small businesses haven’t fully recovered from, or they’re just hanging on by a thread out there. There is this kind of ominous feeling that economic downturn is coming. When you look at these manufacturing companies in this state and the supply chain issues, while most things are accessible they’ve got suppliers going out of business. There are ominous signs here and for those that are still making it there’s not optimism the way that the Democrats want us to believe. ‘Oh hey, the stock market hit an all-time high.’ Well, that doesn’t necessarily translate into peoples’ everyday lives in terms of small business owners and individuals here.”
What’s more, with the collapse now in the U.S. Senate of the immigration and Ukraine supplemental aid deal, Brown expects Rosen to attack him with it—similar to how Biden has been messaging it with the president’s unhinged address on Tuesday. Brown said in this interview, which was done before the bill fell apart in the Senate but even then it was clear it was going to collapse, that Rosen will follow the same deceptive “playbook” as Biden and other Democrats but he believes Nevadans will see through it.
“This is the playbook that the Democrats have used which is gaslight their voters and tell them something that isn’t. The risk that they have right now—the Jacky Rosens and others across the nation—is that Americans have been so ill-affected by their policies for so long and Democrats have told them ‘we’re going to do this for you, we’re going to do that for you’ and in general and across the board most people’s lives are worse off now than they were four years ago,” Brown said. “I think that what they basically have is that they’re going to lose credibility. So when Chuck Schumer goes out there and spends $36 million against me or for her over the next nine months I believe it’s going to be falling on deaf ears because people have been bamboozled for so long and there’s a lack of credibility at this point. That’s my sense. We’ll see how that plays out over the next nine months.”