One of the few national bright spots for Democrats in the recent election was Catherine Cortez Masto’s successful effort to hold Harry Reid’s U.S. Senate seat. The former Nevada attorney general defeated Republican Rep. Joe Heck by about 26,000 votes, 47 percent to 45 percent.
Ms. Cortez Masto carried only Clark County — losing the entire rest of the state — but Sen. Reid’s impressive turnout machine in the Las Vegas area was enough to propel her into the world’s most exclusive club.
Nevada’s future senator ran a disappointingly stealth campaign, preferring the comfort of friendly audiences receptive to her progressive talking points. And if a recent interview with the Reno Gazette Journal is any indication, voters hoping she might seek to distinguish herself and escape the formidable shadow of her predecessor and patron will likely be disappointed.
The headline tells it all: “Cortez Masto: No policy outline, no bill to champion yet.” Apparently, Harry Reid has yet to provide her with the manila folder containing her instructions and agenda.
Ms. Cortez Masto insisted during the interview that she will represent all Nevadans and wants to “reach out” to the rural areas and hold a “listening tour.” This is rather rich coming from someone — as the Lahontan Valley News pointed out in August — who made little effort during the recent campaign to woo residents or media outlets in places such as Elko, Winnemucca, Ely or Fallon.
On matters of policy, Ms. Cortez Masto had nothing of substance to offer, serving up only vague platitudes about her devotion to “immigration issues” and “education initiatives.” She repeatedly bobbed and weaved when queried about committee assignments she might covet and couldn’t provide any specifics about her priorities.
When the interviewer labored to pin her down, Ms. Cortez Masto fell back on being immersed in the “orientation” and “transition” process. Asked if she had a specific bill she wanted to promote, she replied, “Not right away, no.”
Obviously, there’s a learning curve for any new members of Congress, particularly those who must navigate the arcane rules and policies in the upper chamber. But it might inspire a bit more confidence if Catherine Cortez Masto could at least articulate one thing she hopes to achieve during her six-year term.
Instead, we get mush like this. “I think part of it is that listening tour and talking with everyone and focusing on the topics,” she told the state’s second largest newspaper about her goals. “Part of it may be there already may be a bill. I don’t know. That’s what the transition is going to do. That’s what we’re planning. But I’ll tell you what, we’re going to hit the ground running in January when I’m sworn in.”