Harry Reid's pick for Senate seat to run in Nevada

By Catalina Camia 21 minutes ago

Catherine Cortez Masto, a former Nevada attorney general, will run for the U.S. Senate in 2016. (Kevin Clifford, AP)

Sen. Harry Reid’s top choice for a successor in Nevada announced Wednesday she will run for the Senate in 2016.

Catherine Cortez Masto
, a former Nevada attorney general, declared her candidacy less than two weeks after the Senate Democratic leader announced he will retire after this term.

“If she runs, I’m going to help her,” Reid told Nevada Public Radio on March 27. “Whoever runs against Catherine will be a loser.”

Cortez Masto was not eligible to run again for attorney general last year because of she was limited to two terms in office. She left her new job as executive vice chancellor for the Nevada System of Higher Education on Tuesday to launch her Senate campaign.

She hails from a family with deep ties to Nevada politics: Her late father, Manny Cortez, was the longtime head of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and is credited with helping to transform the Las Vegas Strip into a popular travel destination.

Cortez Masto is also Hispanic, in a state where 27.5% of the population is Latino.

The race for the open Nevada seat is a crucial one in the battle for majority control of the Senate. Republicans currently hold a 54-46 majority.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee quickly endorsed Cortez Masto’s bid. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, chairman of the committee, said her record in protecting Nevada families and consumers make Cortez Masto the “strongest candidate to keep this Senate seat in Democratic hands.”

“Cortez Masto’s record and her reputation for integrity and staunch advocacy will power her campaign to a victory in 2016,” Tester said in a statement.

Republicans would like to see Gov. Brian Sandoval, a rising star who is also Hispanic, in the race. He has not expressed any interest in running.

“Nevada was a top pickup opportunity for Republicans before Reid threw in the towel and his hand-picked liberal candidate jumping in the race does nothing to change that,” said Jahan Wilcox, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.