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Sanders stumps for Cortez Masto in Nevada rallies

Updated October 28, 2022 - 10:17 pm

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., swung through Nevada on Friday to stump for vulnerable Democrats in hopes of boosting turnout among younger voters as the Silver State wrapped up its first week of early voting.

At the top of that list is Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who is vying for a second term in Washington in a race that will play a key role in determining which party controls the Senate after the midterms.

“It matters which political party controls the House and controls the Senate. I dare say the future of this country is dependent on the outcome of this election,” Sanders told the crowd at the East Las Vegas Community Center. “And Nevada is right in the center.”

“It is absolutely imperative that we re-elect Catherine, who is a very good senator,” Sanders added near the end of his speech.

At all three events in Reno and Las Vegas on Friday, the Vermont senator focused much of his remarks on inflation, which he called “a serious problem” that his Democratic colleagues aren’t talking about enough.

He said when accounting for inflation, the average American worker today is earning less than he did 50 years ago.

“You want to know why people are angry? They’re angry because they are working their asses off and going nowhere in a hurry,” Sanders said.

Sanders pointed to corporate greed as a source for high inflation and rebutted Republicans’ claims that President Joe Biden was to blame for increased prices, instead pointing to high rates of inflation in Europe as evidence that the issue is worldwide.

At NextGen America’s Downtown Grand event Friday night, where more than 100 people showed up, Sanders listed off companies’ profit increases as the audience booed. He specifically mentioned oil and gas companies whose profits have increased while Americans pay more at the pump, and he called out billionaires who are getting tax breaks.

“This campaign has got to be about a vision for a new America, about a government and an economy that work for all of us. And not just the very rich and campaign donors,” Sanders said.

Close race

The senator’s visit comes less than two weeks before the state’s closely watched midterm elections, which will see Cortez Masto face off against former attorney general Adam Laxalt for one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats. More than 200,000 Nevadans have already cast their votes through early voting or mail-in ballots as of Thursday.

Sanders started the day with a rally in Reno before stumping for Democrats at the East Las Vegas Community Center alongside Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom and Rep. Dina Titus, who is running for re-election in the recently redrawn, and now much more competitive, 1st Congressional District against Republican Mark Robertson.

Nevada is just one of Sanders’ stops during a nationwide tour in the final two weeks before the midterm elections. The tour, which is set to have more than 15 stops across several states, including Oregon, California and Texas, is an effort to increase voter turnout for Democrats in competitive races.

In an interview with CNN last week, Sanders expressed concern about Democratic voter turnout in this year’s midterms, specifically among working-class and younger voters, saying that the party needed to better frame its messaging on the economy as inflation continues to take its toll.

“I am worried about the level of voter turnout among young people and working people who will be voting Democratic,” Sanders said in the interview. “And I think, again, what Democrats have got to do is contrast their economic plan with the Republicans.”

Many of Sanders’ stops, including the events held in Reno and Las Vegas, were part of the “Our Future Is Now” tour organized by the progressive groups NextGen America and MoveOn Political Action.

Sanders, who has run for president two times, suffered a heart attack in October 2019 while campaigning for president in Las Vegas and later returned in the final days of early voting in the Democratic caucuses. He won the caucus going away, with 46.8 percent of the vote, with Biden in a distant second place with 20.2 percent. Since then, the Nevada Legislature has done away with the caucus system in favor a presidential primary election set to take place in February 2024.

Zee Cohen-Sanchez, a 31-year-old Boulder City resident who owns an organization called Sole Strategies that works with progressive politicians, was disappointed by the young voter turnout at the Downtown Grand event and what that means about young Nevadans’ enthusiasm in voting.

“I’m a little scared to be honest,” Cohen-Sanchez said. She volunteered for Sanders in a 2020 Reno event, where the gym was full of supporters.

“I don’t know where the energy is anymore,” she said.

She added she thinks the problem is the messaging from the Democrats, who have not focused on the economy.

Dressed as a fairy, Marija Minic said the turnout could be better, but it was not bad considering it is Halloween weekend.

Minic, a 47-year-old Las Vegas resident who moved from Toronto in 2008, attended the Downtown Grand event because she supports Sanders and his policies, noting that she was shocked to learn about the U.S. health care system.

“It was the strangest thing to not have free health care. Why do people put up with private health care garbage? It’s disgusting,” Minic said. “Bernie is the only candidate that supports it, and he’s considered radical. But growing up in Canada that was normal.”

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com.

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