Nevada’s heated Senate race is shaping up to be one of the nation’s closest, with both candidates hoping their messages on abortion, immigration, inflation or public safety will tip the scales in their favor.
The stakes are especially high for Democratic US Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican challenger Adam Laxalt. The winner could decide which party controls the Senate, and the GOP sees Nevada as one of the best chances to flip a blue seat.
The race has become increasingly tight in recent weeks, with many polls showing that the difference between the candidates is only a percentage point or two. As Election Day approaches, both are following the same campaign guidelines as their national parties, with Cortez Masto rallying voters around threats to abortion access and Laxalt focusing on the economy.
“We don’t need any more male politicians telling women what we can and can’t do with our bodies,” Cortez Masto wrote in a post pinned to the top of his Twitter account in September. He repeated the refrain in several campaign ads, arguing that Laxalt would support increased abortion restrictions and eventually a statewide ban if elected to Congress.
Laxalt, meanwhile, supports the anti-abortion group National Right to Life and has described himself as “pro-life.” In a statement released in June, Laxalt called the U.S. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is “a historic victory for the sanctity of life.”
He said the amendment is “martial law” because Nevada voters have already legalized abortion, but he also expressed support for a referendum that would limit abortion to 13 weeks instead of the 2, weeks allowed under the current state constitution.
If the Republican Party can flip just one seat in the Senate, they will gain control of the House and the right to control judicial nominations and political debate up to 202.
Laxalt’s campaign, however, tried to focus on issues like immigration and the economy instead of abortion. He repeatedly cited rising gas prices and inflation as reasons why voters should choose him over Cortez Masto.
“Gas prices have risen to $7 a gallon at some gas stations in Reno,” his campaign wrote in a press release in early October. The statement sought to tie prices to Cortez Masto’s votes on energy issues, such as his efforts to limit oil and gas leasing on lands with “little or no” development potential.
Cortez Masto is a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Committee on Finance, Indian and Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
Both candidates used their experience as former attorney general — Laxal from 2015 to 2019 and Cortez Masto from 2007 to 2015 before becoming a senator in 2017 — to show their support for law enforcement.
Laxalt is endorsed by the Nevada Brotherhood of Police and the Nevada Public Safety Alliance. Cortez Masto supported the Nevada Police Association, the Nevada Law Enforcement Coalition and the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers.
In early October, Cortez Masto announced that he would help secure more than $21 million in federal funding that would go to police departments, state agencies and tribes to promote law enforcement and criminal justice programs.
They are both court veterans, with Laxalt highlighting his service as a U.S. Navy judge in Iraq and as an associate professor of law at the U.S. Naval Academy. Cortez Masto spoke about the legislation he helped pass through Congress, including a bill to ensure health benefits and compensation for veterans exposed to Agent Orange and others, protect VA benefits for student veterans and improve access to mental health services.
Cortez Masto ran a highly successful fundraising campaign, raising more than $
million and spending nearly $5 million by the end of September, according to OpenSecrets, an organization that tracks campaign finance and spending data.
Laxalt brought in more than $13 million and spent about $9 million during the same period, but was aided by an influx of funding from political action committees. According to OpenSecrets, outside groups spent more than $39 million against Cortez Masto and about $29 million against Laxalt.
Some of the money went to Spanish-language ads. The spending was an attempt to sway Latinos, who make up about four in 10 Nevadans. In 2016, Cortez Masto became the first Latino elected to Congress. Nevada has rejected every GOP presidential candidate since 20 , but by increasingly narrow margins. In 2020, President Joe Biden won by just 2.
Laxalt has close ties to Trump. He managed Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign in Nevada and later promoted lies about the election, leading to legal challenges to the vote counting process. Trump visited Nevada twice to meet with Laxalt and GOP gubernatorial candidate Joe Lombardo, who is running against Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak.
This week former President Barack Obama announced plans to visit Southern Nevada in November. 1 to rally behind Cortez Masto, Sisolak and other state Democratic leaders. Democrats hope the visit will boost enthusiasm for the race and draw Democratic voters to the polls.