LAS VEGAS — At around 8:30 p.m. Friday night, three of Nevada’s top Latino Democrats lined up arm-in-arm in the banquet hall of the Factory of Dreams in Las Vegas, and the women were eager to present their newly won Hispanic Community Leadership Appreciation Awards . But one honoree was absent from the photo op – Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D.), who snubbed the event.
Cortez Masto often invokes her status as “the first Latina ever elected to the US Senate” in her narrow re-election bid against Republican Adam Laxalt, which could determine who controls the Senate next year. That title, in part, prompted El Concilio Hispano, a Hispanic media group that a Top Latino Talk radio program in Nevada to honor the Democrat at its 2022 Hispanic Heritage Month Leadership Awards. The other three of the event guests of honor– Las Vegas City Councilwoman Olivia Diaz, State Assemblyman and Nevada AFL-CIO Secretary and Treasurer Susie Martinez (D.), and Lieutenant Governor Lisa Cano Burkhead (D.), who is also participating in the vote this November , accepted their awards in person . Cortez Masto sent a replacement.
Cortez Masto’s decision to drop the event, which was attended by a number of Hispanic community leaders, is curious given Election Day is just weeks away. Hispanic voters could very well determine Cortez Masto’s political destiny — according to a National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, about 20 percent of Nevada’s midterm voters are expected to be Latinos report. Years ago, that statistic would have been music to Cortez Masto’s ears. The Democrat in 2016 enjoyed 61 percent of Latino votes, exit polls show. Six years later, however, Cortez Masto’s Latino support appears to have waned significantly as many working-class Nevadans sour President Joe Biden’s economy. An October poll by United States today and Suffolk University found that only 49 percent of Hispanic voters support Cortez Masto.
Cortez Masto’s campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment ahead of Friday’s El Concilio Hispano event. Four days after the ceremony, campaign communications director Josh Marcus-Blank said Free beacon Cortez Masto missed the event as she was “scheduled to be in Reno.” Marcus-Blank ignored questions about whether the senator’s trip to Reno was planned before receiving El Concilio Hispano’s invitation.
In both Washington and Nevada, Cortez Masto has long kept a low profile, an approach that has changed little as the Democrat fights for her political life in one of the nation’s most closely watched Senate contests. For example, on the eve of former President Donald Trump’s Oct. 9 visit to northern Nevada, Cortez Masto’s counter-programming consisted of a private speech to Culinary Workers Union recruiters alongside Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.), whose trip to Nevada was unpublicized. If the Washington Free Beacon Visiting Cortez Masto’s Las Vegas office days later, a staffer said she “unfortunately” had “no information on the senator’s schedule at this time.” A visit to the Nevada State Democratic Party office yielded a similar result: a press secretary told the Free beacon he was “unaware” of upcoming public campaign events. That Free beacon isn’t the first media company to be wooed by Cortez Masto—Nevada independent CEO Jon Ralston accused the Democrat in September of “allowing themselves to be refused [his] Reporters ask her about her balance sheet.”
Cortez Masto’s low-key campaign style helps the incumbent avoid “potential missteps,” according to Ralston written down Last month. But it also makes it difficult for the Democrat to motivate Nevada voters, especially when they are faced with it one of the worst inflation rates in the nation. “I didn’t see them at all,” said Victor Roque, a Cuban immigrant Las Vegas realtor Free beacon. “The Democrats are hiding because they don’t seem to like answering questions. And that’s a problem.”
Laxalt and the Republican National Committee have responded by aggressively courting Latino voters, publicity they believe will win them the Senate seat in November. Laxalt hosted a Hispanic Heritage Month event Thursday at the committee’s Las Vegas Hispanic Community Center, with Republican Hammer Biden and Cortez Masto in the running top issues: Inflation and the Economy. Laxalt specifically highlighted his opponent’s decision to vote for trillions of dollars in spending under Biden, saying Cortez Masto “pretends to be independent…but she’s never opposed those policies.”
“We have the chance to save the American dream in this race,” said Laxalt. “If we get Senator Masto out of her office, the government will stop spending, it will stop raising inflation, and it will stop raising gas prices.”
Cortez Masto has tried to weather the storm by focusing primarily on abortion. The Democrat and her campaign allies have spent more than 6 million dollars solely on abortion-related ads, and Cortez Masto’s fundraising messages often argue that a Laxalt victory would lead to a nationwide ban on abortion. However, some prominent Liberals have expressed concern that the issue will not be enough to give them a win in Nevada. “A lot of these consultants think that if we just do abortion commercials, we will win. I don’t think so,” said veteran strategist James Carville said the Associated Press last week. “It’s a good thing. But if you’re just sitting there and they’re beating you up about crime and the cost of living, you have to be more aggressive than just yelling abortion every other word.”
Carville’s assessment is particularly compelling given Nevada’s unique economic turmoil over the past two years. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak in March 2020 ordered the statewide closure of all “non-essential businesses” — including casinos, hotels, restaurants and bars — decimating Las Vegas’ vast tourism and service industries. As the city’s casinos and restaurants reopened at full capacity in the summer of 2021, Nevada business owners began battling inflation and supply chain problems under Biden. A bar manager told that Free beacon He was forced to raise prices “before inflation spiked” as he endured a slump in sales from the shutdown.
Now inflation is costing the average Nevada family nearly $10,000 a year. For example, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is this fourth highest in the nation at $5.23. And not all service industry jobs have returned. Around 12,000 members of the Culinary Workers Union have yet to get their pre-pandemic jobs back, they said Washington Post.
“Ever since Joe Biden took office, I’ve had problems. It’s been really difficult, to the point where I might just have to get another job just to make ends meet,” said Las Vegas resident Tomas Ramos, a retired Army veteran. told the Free beacon. “I don’t go anywhere with gas. groceries too. Everything has become very expensive in the last two years.”
Cortez Masto’s army of Culinary Workers Union volunteers, long an integral part of the late Harry Reid’s Nevada political machine, are becoming acquainted with inflation-seeking voters like Ramos. were union recruiters shouted down in the working-class neighborhoods of Las Vegas, they say New York Timeswith one voter exclaiming, “Do you think I’ll vote for these Democrats after they’ve done everything they can to ruin the economy?”
In the final weeks of the race, the Laxalt campaign will no doubt repeat that sentiment as much as it can — especially for Latinos. “The message is economics, inflation,” said Jesus Marquez, senior Latino engagement advisor at Laxalt. “And we don’t stray from the message.” The campaign believes it will prevail in November if it gets 40 percent of the Latino vote, a benchmark that both Marquez and the Republican National Committee’s Hispanic communications director, Jaime Florez, are hoping to achieve.
“If the Democrats believe Hispanics will stop worrying about inflation because of the abortion issue,” Florez said Thursday, “the election results will show them the colossal extent of their mistake.”