EDITORIAL:

Senator has done Nevada proud, and would be a worthy choice for VP

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Steve Marcus

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-NV, responds to a question during an editorial board meeting at the Las Vegas Sun office in Henderson Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019.

It speaks well for Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto that just four years after being elected to Congress, she’s showing up on lists of potential picks for vice president.

Her chances of making the ticket with presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden are anybody’s guess, but it’s to her credit that she’s part of the conversation.

This much is for sure: She’s worthy of consideration.

Cortez Masto has served Nevada well in Washington, D.C. — and that means all of Nevada. She’s distinguished herself as a staunch defender of the Affordable Care Act, which has allowed about a quarter-million Nevadans to obtain health care coverage, and has been a champion for renewable energy, the environment, working families, our immigrant communities and more. Whether co-sponsoring a successful 2019 bill to expand rural broadband access or recently helping extend stimulus loans to small gaming businesses, which primarily benefited Las Vegas and Reno, she’s focused on every corner of the state.

And you won’t find a leader more committed to rebuffing efforts to revive the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository project. Cortez Masto has fought every effort by the Trump administration to put this atrocious idea back on the table and dump the nation’s 100,000 metric tons of highly radioactive waste in Las Vegas’ backyard.

Anyone listening to her questioning of White House officials on the subject would be reminded that she’s a former federal prosecutor and Nevada attorney general. She knows how to dig for the truth and hold people’s feet to the fire.

Cortez Masto also would bring an inspirational background story to the ticket. She’s the product of an immigrant family that lived the American dream: Her father, Manny Cortez, parked cars at the Dunes before ascending to leadership roles at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and Clark County Commission.

A first-generation college graduate in her family, Cortez Masto went on to become an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington before serving two terms as Nevada’s attorney general. In 2016, after being strongly endorsed by former Sen. Harry Reid to fill the seat he was vacating with his retirement, she became the first Latina elected to the Senate.

The National Democratic Party selected her to chair the election committee aiming to flip the Senate majority this fall. It’s a huge responsibility, and an indication of how strongly the party feels about Cortez Masto’s capabilities.

Nevadans can take pride that her name has come up as a potential pick for Biden. We clearly made an excellent choice in sending this reasonable, moderate and eminently capable lawmaker to the Capitol.

If she becomes the first Nevadan to find their way to a major-party ticket, great. If not, that’s just fine.

Either way, it’s great to see one of our state’s best and brightest shining in Washington.