Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto faces tough re-election fight

Democrats are on defense in several Senate races in a tough political environment this year, and one of their toughest contests may be in Nevada.

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who made history in 2016 when she was elected the first Latin senator, faces strong headwinds in a purple state that turned blue in recent elections. Republican agents are confident of their chances of ousting the incumbent senator, citing rising inflation, high gas prices and gains among Hispanic voters in parts of the Southwest.

Multiple polls have found Cortez Masto trailing his two potential GOP challengers, who will face off in the state primary in June. Adam Laxalt, the former Nevada attorney general turned Big Lie propellant who is expected to win the nomination, led Cortez Masto by three points in a Suffolk University poll released Tuesday. The survey found a high number of undecided voters, suggesting the Democratic senator has her work cut out for her.

“Our chances of defending the Senate just dropped dramatically,” Cortez Masto wrote in a resounding fundraising email on Tuesday. “I’m no stranger to a tough race – but this will be the closest Senate race of the year.”

The stakes for Nevada Democrats are high. Retaining the seat of Cortez Masto would boost their chances of retaining control of the Senate, which currently stands at 50-50. Losing his seat would most likely return the majority to the Republicans, causing all sorts of problems for Biden in the second half of his first presidential term.

Cortez Masto has been a reliable centrist Democratic vote, backing much of Biden’s national agenda. But like other vulnerable Democrats up for re-election this year, the senator has recently sought to put some distance between herself and the Biden administration over its decision to end Title 42, a pandemic restriction enacted under the Trump administration. which effectively prevented migrants from entering the United States. Cortez Masto is urging the Biden administration not to repeal Title 42 until it has a broader plan in place to deal with the influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Cortez Masto also joined other vulnerable Democrats in voting with Republicans last month to repeal the CDC’s COVID-19 mask requirement for public transportation. Although the vote failed, it revealed growing unease among Democrats as being seen as supporting additional COVID-19 restrictions at a time when much of the public is ready to move on.

But Biden’s troubling economic situation and low approval ratings threaten to cost Democrats control of the Senate despite such maneuvers. Cortez Masto, like other Democratic lawmakers, has suggested passing legislation to deal with rising costs, including gasoline and health care. It is unclear whether this message is breaking through with voters, particularly when adopting such measures may take months at the earliest.

There are also questions about Democratic performance among Hispanic voters. Republicans recorded higher voter turnout and surprising gains in heavily Hispanic areas of Texas earlier this year, a trend that, if replicated in other parts of the Southwest, could mean even greater Democratic losses. important.

Still, the Democrats’ chances in Nevada could hinge on the type of candidate Republicans choose in June. Laxalt is a conservative who has been endorsed by Donald Trump, who remains an unpopular figure in the state. In some ways, Laxalt went even further than Trump in spouting false election conspiracies. He refuses to acknowledge that Biden was legitimately elected president, and he is already saying he could challenge the outcome of his own race if he loses. Laxalt will also not commit to certifying the results of the next presidential election in 2024.

Even as he talks about voter fraud, Laxalt has sought to reassure Republican voters that their votes will count this year. The openly cynical message from him and other Republicans seems to be that only Democratic urban areas experience voter fraud, while rural GOP counties are blissfully immune to it.

Laxalt could also face challenges. He lost his gubernatorial campaign in 2018 following reports of ethics violations, so there are questions about his appeal to Nevada voters. Democrats also plan to spotlight his opposition to the bipartisan infrastructure law passed by Congress last year, as well as his anti-abortion views as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on the future of Roe v. Wade.

“Catherine knows what it takes to win tight races,” Cortez Masto campaign spokesman Josh Marcus Blank said in a statement. “Nevadans rejected Adam Laxalt in 2018 because he has a history of corruption and scandal. While Catherine fights for the people of Nevada, Laxalt looks after only himself.

The Nevada Senate race is considered a “toss-up,” according to Cook’s nonpartisan political report. That’s an appropriate mark in a state Biden won by just 2 points in the 2020 presidential election.

Last week, Cortez Masto announced that it had raised more than $4.4 million in the first quarter of the year, the highest amount ever raised by a US Senate candidate in Nevada during the US Senate’s midterm cycle. 2022 so far.


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