Nov 13, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Sen. Cortez Masto holds Nevada seat in decisive victory for Dems

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) speaks to the crowd at the main stage at the Broadacres Marketplace in North Las Vegas on Oct. 23. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) won her bid for re-election, defeating former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, and handing Democrats control of the Senate, the Associated Press reported.

Why it matters: Cortez Masto’s crucial victory comes after Arizona was called for incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly and Democrat John Fetterman flipped a key Senate seat in Pennsylvania.

  • The race for Georgia’s Senate seat will still be headed for a Dec. 6 runoff between incumbent Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker after neither candidate received more than 50% of the vote.

Context: The nation waited days for final results in Nevada, which was one of a few key states left that would determine Senate control. Election results were delayed in the state because of a shortage of election workers in Clark County and large volumes of mail and drop-off ballots in Washoe County.

Yes, but: The Trump-backed Laxalt, who took an active role in attempting to overturn 2020 election results in Nevada, had declined to say whether he would accept the results of the Nov. 8 election, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

  • In an audio recording obtained by the New York Times, which published an article about it in March, Laxalt said he was vetting outside groups to help him prepare a litigation strategy for preemptively fighting purported election fraud.

Catch up quick: Cortez Masto held on to a narrow lead in recent months, but polling showed Laxalt narrowing the gap in the week before Election Day.

  • The face-off largely played out like other key races across the country, with Laxalt slamming Democrats’ record on crime and inflation and Cortez Masto homing in on codifying abortion rights — an issue that went in Democrats’ favor on election night in some key states — and lowering drug costs.
  • Laxalt, whose campaign called border security a top issue throughout his run, had reiterated support for strict border policies and vowed to finish Trump’s border wall if he was elected, per the Nevada Independent.
  • Meanwhile, Cortez Masto had advocated for creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA).

Worth noting: Cortez Masto, the first-ever Latina elected to the Senate, also condemned Laxalt’s push to challenge 2020 election results, which confirmed that President Biden won the state.

  • Laxalt co-chaired Trump’s re-election bid in Nevada and filed several lawsuits after the election in an attempt to stop ballot counting in Clark County, per the Nevada Current. The suits were all dismissed.

Jacob Knutson contributed to this report.

Go deeper