It’s fitting that the open U.S. Senate seat in Nevada may hold the keys to a Senate majority. After all, it’s a seat that’s been held for decades by former Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose iron-fisted rule of the Senate led to a Republican majority two years ago. Although the whisper-voiced, forked-tongued Reid is retiring, he’s been revving up his party machine for one last election.
Reid has been doing everything in his power to make sure his hand-picked successor, Catherine Cortez-Masto, maintains Democrats’ grip on the Silver State and gives Hillary Clinton another rubber-stamp in Washington.
“This good woman, Catherine, is the way we are going to control the United States Senate. All the pundits have said the Democrats can’t control the Senate unless they win the seat in Nevada,” Reid said. “We cannot take anything for granted.”
The road to the Senate majority runs through Reno. And neither candidate can afford to take anything for granted. The polls are all over the place, with no candidate maintaining a decisive edge. A CNN/ORC poll, taken from October 10th through the 15th showed Cortez Masto with a 7-point lead. But a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken just five days later shows Republican Rep. Joe Heck with a 7-point edge.
The discordant polls mirror the state’s relationship with Harry Reid. On the one hand, he’s bested five Republican opponents in the last 30 years, a run that has allowed him to build an efficient political machine and a legacy of a ruthless partisan. But on the other, the state rebelled against his style of leadership, electing Republicans to six statewide offices in 2014, giving them control over both houses in the legislature, and reelected Governor Brian Sandoval with 70 percent of the vote.
Heck, who won reelection by 24 points in his purple-shaded district in 2014, is hoping to keep the momentum going. And as the Las Vegas Review Journal editorial board writes, he deserves it:
Few politicians can match Rep. Heck’s impressive resume. He is a medical doctor and is a brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserve. Rep. Heck was last deployed to the Middle East in 2008 when he commanded a Baghdad-area combat hospital. He offers a moderate and sensible viewpoint on most issues and has made it a priority to improve health care in rural Nevada. His experience in the medical field and the military would be a welcome asset to the upper chamber, as would be his willingness to reach out across the aisle to find common ground.
Ms. Cortez Masto, meanwhile, shows no such inclination. She has long operated as a liberal partisan, even disobeying Nevada law when the governor directed her as attorney general to join a coalition of states opposed to Obamacare. During her time as the state’s top law enforcement officer, her decisions too often wreaked of politics, culminating in her indictment — eventually dismissed by a judge — of a sitting Republican lieutenant governor on the flimsiest of charges.
It’s worth noting that the lieutenant governor appeared likely to challenge Harry Reid in the upcoming election. In other words, Cortez Masto, who was thrown off the case, was nothing more than an obedient attack dog whose job was to protect Reid and his political machine.
Rep. Heck on the other hand is what voters’ dream of but rarely get: A hard-working everyman, who sees problems that need solving, not political battles to be waged. Perhaps the perfect anecdote to describe him happened last month when Heck and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio witnesses a semi-truck smash into three cars while the pair were driving through West Virginia after a campaign event. They immediately pulled over and helped victims escape the wreckage and Heck treated others until emergency responders arrived.
That’s a man worthy of sending to Washington. And his win would complete Harry Reid’s legacy as a man who single-handedly ground the Senate to a halt and was punished by watching a blue state turn red.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore. See more of his work HERE.