Brett Wilkins: Cortez Masto Victory Means Democrats Keep Control of Senate
U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) appears at an election night event in Las Vegas on November 8, 2022. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
“Voters sided with democracy and delivered a resounding defeat to Republican extremism this week,” said one left-leaning political action group. “There’s more to do, but this is critical progress.”
Democracy defenders breathed a collective deep sigh of relief Saturday night as Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada was projected to win reelection, ensuring Democrats retain control of the U.S. Senate regardless of the results of next month’s Georgia runoff.
“Voters sided with democracy and delivered a resounding defeat to Republican extremism this week,” tweeted Swing Left, a group working to elect congressional Democrats in swing states and districts. “There’s more to do, but this is critical progress—thanks to you.”
Cortez Masto’s imminent victory over former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt—a purveyor of former President Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was fraudulent—means the upper chamber’s Democratic caucus will have at least 50 members, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
“This morning the sky is blue! Democracy itself was on the ballot and democracy won because Democrats held the Senate,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) tweeted Sunday. “Special thanks to Gen Z-er’s for their turnout. You are the future!”
Charles Booker, the Kentucky progressive defeated by incumbent Republican Sen. Rand Paul last week, tweeted: “Mitch McConnell just learned he will not be majority leader. Enjoy your evening, America.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) congratulated Cortez Masto, tweeting: “This is great news for the country. Great news for our democracy.”
“But,” he added, “there’s a big difference between 51 and 50. BIG. Let’s keep going and win the Georgia runoff.”
That election will take place on December 6. Money for ads and campaign operatives from both sides are already pouring into Georgia, where neither incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock—who with 99% of ballots counted, received 49.4% of the votes—nor Republican challenger Herschel Walker, with 48.5%, reached the 50% threshold required for outright victory.
Even though Democrats have held their majority in the Senate, with Vice President [Kamala] Harris able to cast tie-breaking votes, picking up a 51st vote in Georgia would offer a cushion for key legislation. During the past two years, Democrats have been unable to move forward with some agenda items, including voting rights and a sweeping climate and social spending bill, because they couldn’t always get the votes of Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.).
Kendra Cotton, chief executive of the pro-democracy New Georgia Project, told the Post that it would be “super-shortsighted” for Democrats to not aggressively campaign for Warnock.
“It’s like if you’re playing a football game and you’re winning by three and you have the opportunity to score a touchdown—and you’re like, ‘Oh, no, I’m already winning by three,’ but there’s like 10 minutes on the clock,” Cotton said. “You look stuck on stupid. Score a touchdown.”
Control of the House of Representatives, meanwhile, remained up in the airSunday, with 20 races—10 in which Democrats are leading, and 10 in which the GOP candidate has the advantage—still undecided.
“Regardless of what happens to the House, Democrats still have defied the odds and it’s a big deal,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted Sunday.
“My heart is filled with gratitude for our candidates, campaign staffers, voters, donators, state party leaders, DNC, DCCC, DSCC and grassroots orgs,” she added. “We broke a huge trend y’all.”