By Kristen Holmes, CNN

(CNN) — An increasingly nasty Republican Senate primary in Nevada has divided those in former President Donald Trump’s orbit.

The race against incumbent Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen is expected to be one of the county’s most competitive and is one of the only contests on which Trump and the National Republican Senatorial Committee are not publicly aligned.

Sen. Steve Daines, NRSC chairman, recruited Sam Brown, a retired Army captain who was severely burned by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, to run in November. Brown met with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort last week to seek his endorsement, two sources familiar with the interaction told CNN.

Brown has drawn the ire of many of Trump’s staunchest supporters, who instead are privately encouraging the former president to back Dr. Jeffrey Gunter, his former ambassador to Iceland.

It is unclear whether Trump is going to endorse in this race. Former state Assemblyman Jim Marchant, who promoted debunked conspiracy theories about election fraud, is also running for the nomination.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz held a rally for Gunter in Nevada last weekend, and far-right activists and Mar-a-Lago regulars Laura Loomer and Roger Stone have railed against Brown on social media for his ties to more mainstream Republicans.

While Brown door-knocked for Trump in 2020, he later appeared to distance himself from the former president, declining to tell Punchbowl News in an August interview whether he would be “comfortable with sharing the GOP ticket with Trump in Nevada.” He eventually endorsed Trump before the Iowa caucuses.

In another sign of more mainstream support, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attended a fundraiser for Brown last year.

All of this information has been shared with Trump by Brown’s critics in an effort to stop any potential endorsement, sources told CNN.

Negative stories on Gunter have also been funneled to the former president, including reports that he was registered to vote as a Democrat in California and a 2021 State Department inspector general report that shed negative light on his tenure as ambassador, according to a source familiar with the interactions.

Gunter was urged by national Republicans not to enter the Senate primary, according to two sources familiar with the conversations.

Sources close to Gunter and Brown each insisted that Trump’s top campaign officials were on their side and that they believed there was a chance the former president would endorse their candidate.

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