POLITICS

GOP hopes to pick up Sen. Reid's seat in Nevada, putting his legacy in play

Former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.

Former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.  (2010 Getty Images)

The race for who will succeed retiring Sen. Harry Reid is one of the most intense in the nation, with Republicans and Democrats both confident that their preferred candidate can snatch a victory.

Democrats are hoping that their candidate, former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, will motivate Latinos to go to the polls in large numbers out of an eagerness to see the nation’s first Latina senator.

She has, of course, received the support of Reid, who holds considerable sway in the state, particularly among Latinos.

Nevada is one of a handful of states where Republicans and Democrats are locked in a fight for control of the Senate. Republicans need to defend 24 of 34 seats in this election cycle.

Nevada and Colorado are cited by experts as two states where the GOP has a shot at picking up Democratic seats.

In the Nevada race, Republicans are optimistic that they can appeal to Latinos, who are 27 percent of the state population, through their candidate, Rep. Joe Heck, who has won three Las Vegas-area congressional elections thanks in large part to his moderate tone toward immigration reform, according to Politico.

Heck has expressed support, for instance, to allowing undocumented immigrants brought here as minors to be able to legalize their status.

He also condemned presidential candidate Donald Trump’s comments on Mexico and Mexicans crossing the border last year.

"That's Donald Trump's opinion, and certainly he said it only in a way that only he can, which is to promote himself and generate controversy," Heck said to reporters after the billionaire, who is leading in most national GOP voter polls, made his controversial remarks. "You can't stereotype an entire ethnicity, and that's what he attempted to do."

Jennifer Duffy, a Washington-based newsletter editor and Senate expert, said to FoxNews.com: “It really is an even race right now. But Nevada is a good possibility for Republicans.”

But Democrats are saying: Not so fast.

They note, to anyone who’ll listen, that Heck has not been completely in line with advocates for immigration. They say, for example, that he has spoken in favor of ending birthright citizenship for U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants.

Republicans, for their part, are highlighting Cortez Masto’s travel expenses as attorney general, characterizing them as lavish.

On another level, Nevada holds symbolic importance because of election results that could be taken as Reid’s legacy, noted the Las Vegas Review Journal.

“This is his legacy,” said Fred Lokken, professor of political science at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, was quoted as saying in the Las Vegas Review Journal last year.

“He does not want to see it go Republican. Harry Reid is not running for re-election, but he will be a huge factor in the race.”

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