Senator Catherine Cortez Masto narrowly defeated her Republican challenger, Adam Laxalt, giving the Democrats 50 seats even before the Georgia runoff on Dec. 6.
Nevada incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto survived a challenge, defeating Republican Adam Laxalt and helping Democrats hold onto U.S. Senate, according to the Associated Press call of the race.
Nevada was one of Republicans’ top targets as they tried to break the Senate’s 50-50 split, and Cortez Masto’s reelection was a toss-up coming into the election. She was running neck and neck with Laxalt, Nevada’s former attorney general who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Cortez Masto served two terms as Nevada’s attorney general before becoming the first Latina ever elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016. She campaigned on women’s reproductive rights, criticizing Laxalt for calling the Roe v Wade decision “a joke,” the Nevada Independent reported, and categorizing a vote for her opponent as an “automatic vote for a federal abortion ban.”
Laxalt tried to pull voters in by promising to combat inflation, which he attributed to poor decision-making by Cortez Masto and President Biden. He also promised to help secure America’s southern border, including resuming Trump’s border wall project.
The Republican candidate was also a proponent of the former president’s claims that the 2020 election results were a sham, and referred to Trump as the current president during a phone call earlier this summer, NPR previously reported.
Less than one month before the election, 14 members of Laxalt’s family wrote a three-page letter endorsing his opponent, the Nevada Independent reported. The letter praises Cortez Masto and her positions on women’s issues and public land preservation, her record as attorney general and more.
The race was among the tightest in the country and saw record spending with $158m on TV ads, $15m raised for Laxalt and $52m for Cortez Masto. The contest was crucial for Democrats to maintain control of the Senate, along with races in Pennsylvania and Arizona Democrat wins.
Nevada’s vote count took several days partly because of the mail voting system created by the state Legislature in 2020 that requires counties to accept ballots postmarked by election day if they arrive up to four days later. Laxalt had an early lead that dwindled after late-counted ballots came in from the state’s population centers in Las Vegas and Reno.
Democrats had dialed up efforts to reach voters with the state party contacting thousands of voters, and the local culinary union – which backed Democratic candidates – knocking on 1m doors in the state of 3 million people.