RENO, Nev. — For a swing state, there has been remarkably little movement in the Nevada polls. Democratic U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican challenger Adam Laxalt have been locked in a neck and neck race for weeks.
Both hit national party talking points hard, with Laxalt blaming inflation and illegal immigration on Democratic policies, and Cortez Masto vowing to block GOP-led attempts to ban abortion nationwide. and to fight for a path to permanent citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children.
But these problems are not necessarily infallible victories. As voters head to the polls on Tuesday, the fierce race may hinge on nuance.
Economic hardship could outweigh abortion concerns for many residents. Voters enshrined abortion rights into state law more than 30 years ago, and the state’s hospitality and entertainment-dominated economy hasn’t rebounded as quickly as it has. other sectors since the COVID-19 pandemic. All of this means that high gas and grocery prices could dampen the impact of Cortez Masto’s messages on reproductive rights.
Abortion is legal in Nevada, but Cortez Masto said she would use her seat to block any effort in the Senate to advance a nationwide ban on abortion. Laxalt said policy decisions on abortion should remain in the hands of states, but also expressed support for a referendum that would restrict abortion after 13 weeks.
Some swing voters in suburban areas might be put off by Laxalt’s close ties to former President Donald Trump. Laxalt co-chaired Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign in Nevada and subsequently promoted and advanced lies about the election. Laxalt communications director Courtney Holland attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C. on January 6 and was pictured with members of the extremist group Oath Keepers, some of whom were later charged with crimes related to the insurrection. Holland said she left the event after seeing the rally deteriorate.
Both candidates are working hard to win votes from Nevada’s Spanish-speaking community. Latinos – who make up about four in 10 residents – could be as boosted by Cortez Masto’s promises to find a path to permanent citizenship for “dreamers” as they are frustrated by high gas and fuel prices. groceries caused by inflation. The election could become something of a case study in the Republican Party’s inroads into the Hispanic community.
Laxalt said he would work to ‘finish the wall’ on the country’s southern border and supports a return to the ‘stay in Mexico’ policy enacted by the Trump administration, which sent migrant seekers back. asylum across the Mexican border while awaiting a decision from US immigration authorities.
Cortez Masto has spent a lot of time wooing the state’s hourly workers, aided in door-to-door campaign efforts by the powerful Culinary Union, whose roughly 70,000 members include bartenders, porters and clerks. housekeeping.
Both sides have also flirted with misinformation along the way. A Cortez Masto ad targeting Spanish-speaking viewers took Laxalt’s remarks out of context to suggest he’s glad some small businesses never recovered from the pandemic. But a look at his full remarks shows Laxalt saying he thought it was good news that people are blaming Democratic leaders and politicians for the impact of certain pandemic policies.
An Adam Laxalt ad falsely claimed that when a local law enforcement officer was shot in the head during the George Floyd riots, Cortez Masto “didn’t say a word.” In fact, she condemned the violence on a social media account, calling it “tragic.” Another ad from a Republican political action committee repeated unsubstantiated claims from a previous campaign to give the false impression that Cortez Masto “supported the release of drunk drivers”.
The candidates each come from powerful political families. Laxalt’s grandfather was former Nevada Governor and U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt, and his father was former U.S. Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico. Still, 14 members of Laxalt’s extended family endorsed Cortez Masto, praising its “Nevada sense” in a public statement that didn’t mention Laxalt by name.
Cortez Masto’s father, Manny Cortez, was a member of the Clark County Commission and was the longtime head of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, a government tourism agency run by a board of members of the private resort industry and local government officials.
Cortez Masto served as Nevada’s attorney general from 2007 to 2015, before becoming the first Latina elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016. Laxalt served as state attorney general from 2015 to 2019 and ran unsuccessfully for the governorship in 2018.
Associated Press writers Sam Metz in Salt Lake City, Ali Swenson in New York, and Graph Massara in San Francisco contributed.
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