Democrats Keep Senate Control With Cortez Masto Victory

With Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s (D-NV) close election win over Republican Adam Laxalt, Democrats will keep control of the U.S. Senate. The tally of delayed mail-in ballot counting resulted in 48.7% for the incumbent and 48.2% for the former state attorney general.

The result means that Democrats will now have at least 50 seats in the Senate and can count on Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote no matter the outcome of the Georgia runoff.

Cortez Masto in 2016 succeeded veteran Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, who served as Senate Majority Leader for eight years. She became the first Latina elected to the body and is a former two-term Nevada attorney general.

Laxalt is an Iraq War veteran who succeeded Cortez Masto as state attorney general. He hails from a political legacy as the grandson of the late Nevada governor and senator Paul Laxalt. The Republican lost a narrow election for governor in 2018.

In one of the most closely contested races of the midterm elections, polls went back and forth revealing one candidate or the other with a slim lead among voters.

Just prior to Election Day, the RealClearPolitics aggregate showed Laxalt ahead by 3.4 points.

Cortez Masto, however, overcame a voting record that aligned with President Joe Biden almost 100%. Many saw this as a disadvantage and tagged her as one of the shakiest incumbents.

Abortion became one of the central issues in the race, with Cortez Masto claiming that Laxalt would support a federal ban if elected. He countered that he believed abortion law should be left up to the states.

Nevada already has codified abortion access up to 24 weeks.

OpenSecrets reports that Cortez Masto spent $46.6 million to retain her seat as opposed to $12.4 million by Laxalt as of Oct. 19. He made a strong push at the end, powered in part by endorsements from former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Still, the Democratic win put the party back in the driver’s seat of the U.S. Senate and took some of the shine off the Georgia runoff between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker. The GOP will either have 50 or 49 seats when the dust settles in December.