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As Nevada primary nears, support pours in for heated Senate, gubernatorial races

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto
AP Photo/Chase Stevens

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., waves to supporters after her victory at an election watch party in Las Vegas, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016.

The control of the U.S. Senate very likely rests in the hands of Nevada voters this fall. With the state’s growing base of non-white voters, many see Nevada’s elections as a glimpse into the future of the country.

It’s no surprise that the state and the moods of voters here are being watched very carefully.

“If the election were held today, then yes, I think Catherine Cortez Masto could be in a little bit of trouble, which is really remarkable given Nevada's political history in the last six years or so,” said Steve Sebelius with the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Economic forces are at play – when Nevadans go to the polls in June, they’ll be thinking about inflation, the housing market, gas prices and the rising cost of living.

Sebelius said issues that affect people directly are going to be at the forefront, rather than larger issues such as climate change and racial injustice. 

“Assessing the blame for those problems is going to be a key factor in politics, for people trying to get votes and deny the other side votes,” he said.

Sebelius said it’s important to keep an eye on Sam Brown, another Republican candidate for the Senate job. He’s raised a little under what Laxalt’s raised. 

“There is a segment of the Republican party that simply does not like Adam Laxalt, and is looking for a viable alternative,” Sebelius said.

He said he thinks Laxalt will win, but he needs to fend off his challenger. As far as the issues go, Sebelius said Laxalt and Brown would line up pretty closely.

The Cook Political Report calls their race a dead heat, but The Nevada Independent’s poll saw Cortez Masto with an edge.

“I'm sure Cortez Masto and her campaign are hoping that it's going to be kind of a repeat of 2010 when former Senator Harry Reid was able to defeat Sharron Angle in a midterm that was not good for Democrats nationally,” said Riley Snyder, a reporter with the publication.

KNPR’s Paul Boger joined State of Nevada to discuss Washoe County and the rural areas as many of them look to hand-counted ballots.

“We don't usually hear from the registrar's very often, we usually check in about once every other year, right before an election to make sure all the voting machines and the system's going to work correctly. … It's not been the case like that since 2020,” he said, with a rise in threats against election workers.

Boger reports in Esmeralda and Lyon counties have joined Nye County in pushing to all paper ballots. Elko and Lincoln counties are in the same position by looking at voter machine reform. Election officials have stated on multiple occasions that the machines were and are accurate.

“They're causing chaos and confusion, at least within the electoral system here in rural counties,” Boger said.

Paul Boger, Northern Nevada and state government producer, State of Nevada;  Riley Snyder, reporter, The Nevada Independent;  Steve Sebelius, politics and government editor, Las Vegas Review-Journal

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Paul serves as KNPR's producer and reporter in Northern Nevada. Based in Reno, Paul specializes in covering state government and the legislature.
Kristen DeSilva (she/her) is the audience engagement specialist for Nevada Public Radio. She curates and creates content for, our weekly newsletter and social media for Nevada Public Radio and Desert Companion.