Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto defeated Republican Adam Laxalt in one of the most crucial Senate contests of the 2022 midterms, Decision Desk HQ projects. This means Democrats are projected to control the Senate.
Cortez Masto, the first and only Latina in the U.S. Senate, was first elected to the chamber in 2016 after two terms as attorney general. She took over the seat held for years by the powerful former Sen. Harry Reid, who built up a formidable political machine in the state.
Laxalt, a member of a Nevada political dynasty whose grandfather and father both represented the state in the Senate, succeeded Cortez Masto as attorney general and unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018 against Gov. Steve Sisolak. Laxalt also played a key role in the efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to subvert the 2020 presidential election in Nevada.
Sisloak was projected by Decision Desk HQ to lose reelection to Republican Joe Lombardo.
The state of the economy and abortion dominated the conversation in races up and down the ballot in Nevada, where working-class and Latinx voters are critical voting blocs key to any statewide candidate’s chances of success. The 2022 elections were a key test of whether the so-called Reid Machine can continue to reliably propel Democrats in the state to victory up and down the ballot.
The state’s economy, heavily reliant on the tourism and hospitality industries, was hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with inflation, higher gas prices, and rising costs of living looming particularly large in the Nevada Senate race.
Cortez Masto campaigned on her record of securing pandemic aid for Nevada’s economy while hammering Laxalt as extreme and out-of-step on abortion and democracy, in particular.
Laxalt called the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade in June “a historic victory for the sanctity of life” but reiterated that abortion remains legally protected in Nevada.
“The people of Nevada have already voted to make abortion rights legal in our state, and the Court’s decision on Roe doesn’t change settled law and it won’t distract voters from unaffordable prices, rising crime or the border crisis,” he said in a statement.
Laxalt and his campaign have repeatedly denied that he supports any federal restrictions on abortion, like a proposed national 15-week abortion sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham. He’s largely avoided the issue of abortion on the campaign trail altogether, The Nevada Independent reported, instead staying focused on the economy, the border, and tying Cortez Masto to President Joe Biden.
Super PACs for both top pro-abortion-rights and anti-abortion groups poured millions in outside spending into Nevada’s Senate race, spending on advertisements, canvassing and mailers seeking to sway the electorate.