Democrats keep Senate control with Cortez Masto win in Nevada

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, a Nevada Democrat, pledged that her party would retain control of the Senate after defeating Republican Adam Laxalt, the state’s former attorney general.

The race was called Saturday by the Associated Press.

“It’s official: Democrats retain control of the US Senate!” Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) tweeted thanking donors, volunteers and voters. “You made this victory possible!”

The recapture of the chamber was “a resounding endorsement of the Democratic Senate majority,” Michigan Senator Gary Peters, chair of the Senate’s Democratic campaign arm, said in a statement Saturday. “These historic race-after-race results speak for themselves and reflect the strength of our candidates, the popularity of the Senate Democrats’ message to the American people, and a rejection of extremism represented by the GOP.”

Democrats will have a chance to build on their majority in Georgia next month when Sen. Raphael Warnock takes on GOP challenger Herschel Walker. Warnock narrowly overtook Walker in the general election. But he failed to surpass 50% of the vote, forcing a runoff under state law.

Walker was 5 percentage points behind Gov. Brian Kemp, a fellow Republican who made a successful re-election bid — indicating a sizeable number of voters who supported the incumbent governor but not Walker.

Now that control of the Senate has been established, it might be difficult for Walker to get those voters to show up, said Jessica Taylor, Senate campaign analyst at the bipartisan Cook Political Report with Amy Walter.

“It’s a turnout game, and the Republicans failed the turnout game last time because [then-President] Trump was trying to overturn the election results,” Taylor said, noting the GOP’s loss of two Georgia Senate runoffs after the 2020 election.

Trump is also poised to loom large over the upcoming runoff election, teasing a possible announcement for a 2024 presidential nomination next week.

President Biden, whose party holds the Senate, retains his ability to confirm judicial nominees and cabinet secretaries.

Ronald Klain, Biden’s chief of staff, celebrated on Twitter by typing in the number of seats Democrats now hold — 50 — and 14 exclamation marks.

Retaining the Senate was considered a slightly easier task for the Democrats than retaining control of the House of Representatives. National dynamics — like presidential approval ratings and economic concerns — are putting less pressure on statewide races; In 2018, for example, Republicans took two Senate seats even though Democrats won 40 seats to gain control of the House of Representatives.

Still, amid high inflation and a disaffected electorate, the fight for control of the Senate was a defeat for much of the cycle. Democrats have been bolstered by dominant fundraising and voter outrage after the Supreme Court overturned decades-old federal protections on abortion access. They also benefited from GOP opponents, who were popular with Trump supporters but less so with the general electorate.

Taylor said she never imagined at the start of the cycle that Democrats could be close to a Senate seat.

“If we look at history and the current political climate and economic indicators, it’s shocking that the Democrats may not have lost a single incumbent,” Taylor said.

Nevada’s contest between Laxalt and Cortez Masto — who was viewed as the most vulnerable Senate Democrat in the run-up to Tuesday’s midterm elections — has been so close in part because the state’s voters are narrowly divided between the two major parties. Democrats had a registration advantage of less than 4 percentage points over Republicans as of Nov. 1.

On paper, Nevada looks like a blue state. All but one of its statewide offices are held by Democrats; The party has majorities in both state legislatures and in its congressional delegation. Democratic presidential candidates have won the state since 2008, when Barack Obama prevailed with a double-digit victory.

But the Democrats’ winning streak in Nevada belies the harsh nature of many of their victories. Fueled by the vaunted “Reid Machine” — the political turnout built by the late Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, the state’s longest-serving senator — Nevada leaned just narrowly toward the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections Political party. Cortez Masto won her first term in 2016 by less than 3 percentage points.

Democrats have relied on working-class voters of color, particularly union members, to bolster their margins in tight elections. But the party’s efforts to win over undergraduates and a shift to the right among Latino voters made Nevada particularly challenging territory.

The state’s workforce is ephemeral, and many constituents’ livelihoods depend on visitors eating, drinking, gambling and otherwise frolicking on and around the Las Vegas Strip — a tourism industry that has yet to fully recover from the pandemic’s confinement has recovered. The state’s unemployment rate and gas prices remain among the highest in the country.

Democrats across the country, including Cortez Masto, fought the Supreme Court ruling that overturned nationwide abortion rights earlier this year. But relative to other states, concerns about the issue were perhaps more muted in Nevada, where the electorate enacted the right to abortion up to 24 weeks into state law in 1990.

Cortez Masto, 58, a former attorney general, is the daughter of a four-year-old Clark County commissioner. She made history in 2016 as the first Latina to be elected to the Senate.

Laxalt, 44, is a former attorney general who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2018. The grandson of a Nevada governor and senator who was a confidant of President Reagan, Laxalt co-chaired Trump’s 2020 campaign in the state. Trump fought with him on November 5th.

“This is another place where we saw Trump having a bigger impact,” Taylor said, noting that Laxalt was part of the legal team trying to help the former president overturn the 2020 election results.

Refusal to vote was unpopular with voters in the state; Jim Marchant, the GOP secretary of state candidate who has been among the most vocal purveyors of voting conspiracies, appears to be losing to Democrat Cisco Aguilar.

But Republican gubernatorial nominee Joe Lombardo successfully ousted Democratic incumbent Steve Sisolak. While Lombardo has been endorsed by Trump and has appeared with him at rallies, at times he has also attempted to distance himself from the former president, calling him a “healthy president” in a debate after he refused to call Trump “great.” . Lombardo’s position as sheriff of Clark County, the state’s center of population, also enabled him to lead a campaign more focused on crime.

Each of Nevada’s nearly 2.2 million voters received mail-in ballots that will be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day and received by polling officials by 5 p.m. Saturday.

This was the first midterm election since the death of Reid, a Democratic kingmaker with unprecedented influence on state politics and a Washington icon. Almost every visitor who flies to Sin City lands at the airport on the Strip that bears Reid’s name. The former Senate Majority Leader was Nevada’s longest-serving Senator.

Times writers Nolan D. McCaskill in Washington and Hannah Fry in Los Angeles contributed to this report. Democrats keep Senate control with Cortez Masto win in Nevada

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