Reid to Latin Chamber: Cortez Masto is ‘right person’ to succeed me

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Steve Marcus

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) speaks during a news conference ahead of the CNN Democratic Presidential Debate at the Wynn Las Vegas Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015.

Fri, Oct 16, 2015 (9 p.m.)

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Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto is shown in this file photo talking to media at the Legislative Building in Carson City on May 29, 2013.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid used his visit Friday to the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce luncheon to lob praise on Catherine Cortez Masto, the Democrat hoping to succeed him in the Senate when he retires next year.

Cortez Masto, who served eight years as Nevada’s attorney general, announced her candidacy for Reid’s Senate seat in April.

“Catherine is going to win to be my replacement because she is the right person,” Reid said. “She is somebody the state of Nevada needs. We’ve been waiting for a Latina to come to the United States Senate forever.”

Referencing Cortez Masto’s track record and “great lineage” — her father, Manny Cortez, headed the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for 13 years — Reid said he is confident she’s the best person to succeed him. The Senate minority leader backed Cortez Masto from the moment he announced his decision to retire, before she even threw her hat in the ring.

“This woman is a standout in whatever she has done,” Reid said at the luncheon, where Cortez Masto was also in attendance.

Reid then turned his attention to an issue near and dear to the Latin Chamber — immigration reform — and blasted the U.S. House of Representatives for failing to act on it. Two years ago, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but the legislation has never made it to the House floor for a vote.

“The thing we’re not going to do is do (immigration reform) piecemeal,” he said. “We’re not going to do a little bit here and a little bit there. We’re going to do it all at once. That’s the only way it’s fair.”

The senator’s remarks, which coincided with the Latin Chamber’s 40th anniversary, largely revolved around what he described as discord in Washington and the mounting importance of the 2016 elections. He urged voters to start asking candidates their views on issues, such as immigration reform, the minimum wage, student loan debt, Yucca Mountain and transportation infrastructure repairs.

Before his speech, Reid also answered election-related questions from the media, ranging from the Democratic debate Tuesday in Las Vegas to the importance of the Hispanic vote.

“I thought Hillary Clinton did extremely well,” Reid said, referring to the presidential candidate's debate performance. “She’s a seasoned taker of questions.”

Reid went on to describe himself as a testament to the increasing importance of the Hispanic vote, a group he said is constantly growing and becoming more organized.

“The first ad (opponents) ran against me said, ‘Harry Reid: best friend illegal immigrants ever had,’” he said. “All it did was upset the Hispanic community. They rolled up their sleeves and turned out like they had never turned out before.”

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