Sun editorial:

Cortez Masto’s new role shows how Nevadans are moving the needle


Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., left, meets with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., right, in Schumer’s office at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto wasn’t on the ballot last month, but she deserves congratulations for a major November achievement.

In being chosen to lead the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Cortez Masto gained a prominent new role that is actually a victory for all of Nevada and a recognition of how our state is at the forefront of the nation when it comes to electing creative, inclusive, dignified and humane leaders.

Nevada has established the gold standard in terms of getting eligible voters registered to vote and energizing them to show up at the polls. That’s especially the case among voters of color and among younger voters. And by doing so, Nevada is electing leaders like Cortez Masto who approach the job with a fresh spirit and a willingness to focus on solutions for the people, not hyper-partisan posturing. National Democrats appear to have noticed, and they want some of that magic.

As Roll Call put it, “There has been perhaps no more effective Democratic Party organization in recent years than the Nevada state party, which has built a diverse coalition centered in the largely Latino communities of Las Vegas and in alignment with Culinary Union Local 226.”

Meanwhile, Cortez Masto also represents the moderate, bipartisan type of leader that Nevadans have increasingly supported as the Republican Party has lurched farther and farther right. Those leaders include centrist Gov. Brian Sandoval, a like-minded successor in Steve Sisolak, and Democrat Jacky Rosen for the House and then the Senate. Voters were looking for problem solvers, not party extremists, and the Democrats here were smart enough to listen.

So it’s no surprise that party members elsewhere want to copy what’s happening here.

And now, with Cortez Masto leading the way, the regional model has a chance to expand well beyond Nevada. That would mean great things for American democracy, given the potential to boost turnout among groups that haven’t typically voted in large numbers.

The choice of Cortez Masto for the position is significant in other ways. She’s the first Latina to lead the committee, and just the second woman to do so. She’s also one of the four women who now lead the main campaign committees heading the Senate, House, gubernatorial and state legislative races, each of whom replaced a man. Meanwhile, the four positions in the Republican Party are held by men.

Finally, the selection of Cortez Masto also should ease concerns about Nevada’s influence in the Senate after the departure of Harry Reid.

True, Reid cast an enormous shadow, but it speaks volumes for Cortez Masto’s reputation among her colleagues that they’ve entrusted her with the party’s election strategy.

In short, the Democrats see Cortez Masto as a new face of American politics.

In a nation that is growing more diverse ethnically and where women are flexing their political power like never before, the successful party will be the one that can heed voters who demand new faces and a return to a less partisan approach to governing.