In a major testament to retiring Sen. Harry Reid’s turnout machine, the Associated Press and NBC are projecting Catherine Cortez Masto as the winner of the Nevada Senate race.
Masto will be the first Latina elected to the U.S. Senate.
The race was hotly contested with Masto and Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) within just a few points of each other throughout the race. In the end, Heck’s gamble to disavow the Republican nominee didn’t pan out.
Masto will replace Reid after his more than 35 years in Washington, where he rose to be the Democratic majority leader.
During her campaign Masto worked tirelessly to tie her opponent to Donald Trump, whose extreme rhetoric on immigration, building a border wall and mass deportation all sent a strong anti-immigrant message to a state where Latino voters accounted for 18 percent of the electorate in 2012.
Heck meanwhile, struggled to strike the right balance with Trump, sticking with the presidential nominee throughout an excruciating summer when Trump admonished a Gold Star family and continued to rely on vitriolic attacks on immigrants, women and his opponent Hillary Clinton.
It wasn’t until October – after a tape revealed Trump talking about grabbing women by the p***y surfaced– that Heck finally cut ties. It seemed to be too little too late for most independents and enraged his base.
“I can no longer look past the pattern of behavior and comments that have been made by Donald Trump,” Heck said to a booing crowd in the early days of October. “Therefore I cannot in good conscience continue to support Donald Trump.”
On the trail, Masto earned a reputation as a scripted and disciplined candidate who also focused her campaign on her own accomplishments as an attorney general who fought human trafficking in Nevada.
In an interview with TPM in October, Reid said that Masto had her own unique Senate tenure ahead of her.
“Catherine will not be me. I don’t want her to be me. I want her to be her. I knew her dad extremely well. He’d be so proud of her. She has really a good foundation. She has a good presence,” Reid said. “I think she will be one of the stars in the Senate and to think from Nevada, we would have the first Latina , the first Hispanic woman senator, I think that’s wonderful.”