Latino Voters Helped Power The First Latina to the Senate. But Will They Send Her Back?

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto made history nearly six years ago as the first Latina elected to the U.S. Senate after a tough, costly race in which she won less than 3%.

Her re-election looks tough, too, and one demographic is particularly important to maintaining her seat: Latinos.

Republicans, emboldened by their interests with Latinos in South Texas and Florida in recent elections, are seeing Nevada as their next opportunity to infiltrate a voting demographic is trending in the right direction.

GOP candidate and former Nevada Attorney General, Adam Laxalt, through his “Latinos for Laxalt” coalition, is convincing those voters that his candidacy for the MAGA brand is an opportunity for change. .

“The only thing we have to expect is that people are waking up to it,” Laxalt said at a Latino-focused campaign stop in Las Vegas earlier this month, according to a dispatch from Independent Nevada. “They are getting rid of the Democrats. They know these policies are dangerous and toxic for our children, for our country. “

But leftist Latino organizations and Cortez Masto’s campaign are finding every stop to make sure the vote shift doesn’t happen — and they reject the idea that the GOP playbook has worked with the wars. Recent wins by Latino voters in Texas and Florida would have a similar effect in a Battle Born state.

“The Republicans are treating Latinos as a monolith and claiming that because they see movement in a small portion of Latinos in select states that it is the brush to paint the entire country and Latino people across the country,” Yvonne Gonzales, executive director of Latino Victory Foundation, told The Daily Beast. “When we learned that wasn’t the case.”

Cortez Masto has been a credentialed vote for President Joe Biden’s agenda and a voice for Nevada’s woes during the pandemic, where the hospitality and tourism industries have decimated as tourism stops again.

But elections for Nevada Democrats are usually won by a small margin. Cortez Masto won his first term in the Senate by just 2.4 points in 2016 – but Latinos voted for Cortez Mastro 61 to 32% more than challenger Joe Heck at the time – more like 60 % received by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the same year, according to Las Vegas Review Magazine. Biden also won the state in 2020, but with 56 Latinos who voted, while Trump improved his share of the vote from 29% to 37% in opinion polls. NBC News.

Latinos are expected it turns out with increased numbers in Nevada compared to the 2020 general election — and they will likely 1 in 5 midterm Nevada voters this November, according to a forecast from the National Association for Education Fund of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).

While Democrats have seen some signs of hope that their midterm outlook isn’t quite broken, the historic two-point margin offers little breathing room for what is forecast to be. A difficult year for the party.

“It’s going to be very competitive, they’re usually in Nevada,” Cortez Masto told The Daily Beast on Tuesday.

Laxalt himself is one of the top GOP rookies in this cycle, with the expectation that he will dominate any major Republican field in terms of name alone, as Laxalt’s father – and grandfather – both US Senators. Those expectations came true, when Laxalt, who was endorsed by former President Trump, won the GOP primaries in June with more than 55% of the vote.

Cortez Masto’s campaign is well aware of the role Latino voters play in securing her re-election against Laxalt this November. She has been on the air in Spanish since May, with advertisements touting her Mexican grandfather’s journey to America and her record in the Senate during her first term. She’s also done rounds at cross-state, Latino-focused events to help find voters from key demographics.

Cortez Masto’s campaign spokesman, Josh Marcus-Blank, said her candidacy offers a “clear contrast” to Laxalt’s, adding, “Senator Cortez Masto has consistently fought for the cause. community of Nevada.”

However, Laxalt and his conservative allies are also initiating Latino communities. Just last week, Laxalt plunged into deep blue Las Vegas with a series of Latino voter outreach events focused on voter outreach, hoping to give longtime Democrats a chance with conservatives.

His message echoes what Republicans have used in Texas and Florida — which has proven to be at least partially effective: that The American Dream is under attack In the face of soaring inflation and gas prices, and electing a Republican could set in motion a number of factors.

“I am incredibly grateful for the overwhelming support I have received from the Latino community throughout this campaign,” Laxalt said in a statement after completing a round of campaign stops focusing on Latino voters. .

“As I traveled across the state, I had the opportunity to speak with countless Latino families to hear their stories and hear about their concerns and priorities. Like many families, they are concerned about rising prices, the cost of gasoline, our wide open borders, and a deadly increase in violent crime. “

Republican agents in the perimeter are also angry about Laxalt’s prospects.

“Oh, we’re going to win,” National Republican Senate Committee Chairman Rick Scott told The Daily Beast of the Nevada Senate confrontation. In a follow-up asking what voting demographics might make that possible, Scott touted the “massive investment in the Spaniard’s vote” as the silver bullet towards victory for the Spaniards. Republican Party.

“As you know, Spaniards are fed up with the Democrats because they realize that the Democrats don’t care about them… Spaniards are fed up with the public school system, they are fed up with this inflation. They are fed up with bringing down the police,” Scott said.

“I think it will put us in a great position to win.”

But organizers say efforts to sway Latinos in the direction of the GOP are not new – and note that conservative records on issues like immigration and more will not resonate. for Nevadan Latinos during this cycle.

“We’ve seen Republicans focus on trying to win Latino votes and use certain issues that they believe will interact with Latinos,” Gonzales said. “When you really look at the Republican story right now, they couldn’t be more anti-Latinos.”

Maria Teresa Kumar, president of the organizing group Voto Latino, also told The Daily Beast that the Latino right trend is largely driven by older Latinos. Younger Latinos still tend to settle down with Democrats, she said, and their turnout was key for Cortez Masto to win.

“They are the ones who can put so much status in the question that we have to bring them to the polls,” says Kumar.

And Democrats warn that the GOP’s new efforts will not exceed the long-term investments the left has made in Latinos.

“Democrats have done this work for a long time. And there’s still a lot of work to do now, but we’ve outgrown that work for decades,” said Megan Jones, a veteran special agent. of the Democratic Party in Nevada said.

To be sure, Nevada is one of the most diverse states in the country, with a large Asian-American, Pacific Islander, and black population, meaning a wide range of opinions will come into play. out. And political issues like bread and butter will no doubt remain at the forefront of both candidates’ campaigns because of new restrictions on abortion, climate change, jobs and rising prices. are still problems in the West.

“[Laxalt] go against Roe and Wade and give everyone reproductive freedom and oppose the bipartisan infrastructure package that I support that will create well-paying jobs in our state,” said Cortez. Masto told The Daily Beast. “And he’s still out there selling his conspiracies and lies about the election — the last election.”

But investments in Latinos will undeniably be a game changer — to the point where Gonzales says even Democrats can do more.

“I always thought there should be more and I’m biased…” she said. “We can’t just paint with a wide brush. So I think that party definitely needs to do more to attract and motivate and mobilize Latinos to vote for them — and that’s an important opportunity. “

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