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Senate Republicans try to expand 2022 playing field to blue-trending Nevada

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Both parties' plans to win a Senate majority revolve around a handful of states, including contests in Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Now, Senate Republicans are trying to add Nevada to the list. They see Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, elected in 2016 and seeking reelection next year, as potentially vulnerable. Even though Nevada has trended blue of late, with Democratic presidential candidates winning there from 2008 on, and with most statewide offices, plus both legislative chambers, under party control.

Republicans are trying to lure former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt into the race. Scion of a famous Nevada political family, as grandson of former Gov. and Sen. Paul Laxalt, a Senate contest would offer a chance for electoral redemption. Adam Laxalt in 2018 lost the Nevada governor's race to Democratic rival Steve Sisolak.

A former Nevada attorney general and protege of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Cortez Masto won her Senate seat as former President Donald Trump lost the state to Hillary Clinton while winning nationally. In 2020, President Joe Biden beat Trump in Nevada by less than 3 percentage points, suggesting Nevada, despite its blue tilt, is still a swing state of sorts.

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Still, Nevada Democrats have an advantage in voter registration numbers, with 35.3% to Republicans’ 30.8%. Another 33.9% of active voters are not registered with either party.

And despite Nevada trending blue in the past few cycles, Laxalt managed to win a statewide race in 2014 to become attorney general. Although Laxalt has not declared his Senate candidacy, he would likely receive support from grassroots conservatives and Trump himself, along with Republicans in Washington, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Laxalt must still shed his image as politically damaged goods after his 2018 failed gubernatorial run against Sisolak. Yet he is considered Republicans’ best chance at flipping the seat.

Every potentially competitive Senate race is important in the 50-50 chamber, where Democrats hold the majority due to the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. It remains to be seen if Nevada will rise to the top of each party's "must win" list.

That includes Arizona, where Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly is seeking a full six-year term. In Georgia, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock is in a similar situation. Senate seats in North Carolina and Pennsylvania are open in 2022 due to the retirements of Republican senators, respectively, Richard Burr and Pat Toomey. And in Wisconsin, GOP Sen. Ron Johnson has not said whether he'll seek reelection. Either way, Wisconsin Democrats have a crowded Senate primary field.

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In Nevada, as Laxalt decides whether to jump into the Senate race, Cortez Masto is on the campaign trail raising millions of dollars for her reelection. She banked almost $2.8 million in the last quarter, bringing her cash on hand to nearly $6.6 million.

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Tags: News, Senate, Election, Nevada

Original Author: Kerry Picket

Original Location: Senate Republicans try to expand 2022 playing field to blue-trending Nevada

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