Cortez Masto’s win: No surprise to local observer

Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 7:32 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -She spent much of the past two years living with the label “the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrat,” but Catherine Cortez Masto ended up sealing the party’s hold on the upper house with her re-election. Some national pundits may have been surprised, but not those closer to home.

Election night in Las Vegas, trailing her Republican opponent, Senator Cortez Masto sought to calm a room of anxious supporters. “We know this will take time and we won’t have election results for several days,” she said, “but here’s what I know. I have confidence in this team.”

In the days that followed, as more ballots were counted, the gap between the two narrowed. Saturday night found her the projected victor. Sunday, she addressed many of the same supporters.

“When the national pundits said I couldn’t win, I knew Nevada would prove them wrong.”

Fred Lokken was one veteran observer who wasn’t surprised by the outcome. “She had, by everyone’s estimation, even those on the Republican side, a well run campaign.” said the longtime professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at Truckee Meadow Community College.

She had other advantages; the first Latina ever elected to the Senate running in a state where the Latino vote is crucial. Still, she had to overcome millions of dollars of campaign ads from the GOP and conservative political action committees.

Lokken says one reason she was targeted was her role in raising campaign cash for other democrats. “She headed the 2020 senate fundraising. So, party-to-party, they target the one who did that for the Democrats this year and they defeated him.”

She had only carried one county six years ago and that’s where it was decided this time. The election machinery left by the late Senator Harry Reid, including a formidable get-out-the-vote effort by the culinary union, turned out for her in populous Clark County.

“Record breaking contact with voters,” says Lokken. “She won by over 50,000 votes in Clark County alone.“

And this time around she carried Washoe County as well.