Hours after the White House hosted a ceremony for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanagh, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto urged Washoe County voters to flip the Senate in November at a fundraiser dinner. The junior senator from Nevada said it was a “tough time” for her and other colleagues as the Senate voted to seat Kavanaugh amid accusations of sexual misconduct.
“It was a tough time,” Cortez Masto told activists and local politicians at the Reno Ballroom. “But I’m here to tell you that if we are going to make change, if we are going to continue to push the agenda and fight for what we believe in, we have to take back that agenda.”
The annual fundraiser dinner named for the late local activist Virginia Demmler was hosted by the Democratic Party of Washoe County. Julián Castro, the former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the keynote speaker, also criticized the Kavanaugh vote.
“This was a tough week,” said Castro, a potential 2020 candidate. “I think this week, as much as any other week, we saw the difference in the values we hold as Democrats versus the values that were on display with the Republican Senate majority and the president.”
Earlier in the day, the White House held a ceremony for Kavanaugh after a divisive and combative confirmation process that ended with the appellate judge being confirmed by one of the narrower margins for a Supreme Court justice in U.S. history. The vote came as Kavanaugh was facing several accusations of sexual misconduct, including from Christine Blasey Ford, who testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh assaulted her in high school.
Cortez Masto asked voters to elect first-term Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is looking to unseat Sen. Dean Heller, saying that it would create a different dynamic in the Senate. Although her vote would not have changed the outcome of Kavanaugh’s appointment, her election could help put the Democrats in the majority, which would have a major impact in the ability of Democrats to challenge the Trump agenda.
“Guess where we would be right now if Jacky Rosen were with us in the United States Senate,” Cortez Masto asked. “This Senate seat is the pathway for the Democrats to take back the majority in the United States Senate.”
The Nevada race is widely considered key to whether the Democrats take control of the Senate. Speaking to the base Monday night, Cortez Masto said flipping the Senate was important to enforce “some checks and balances” on the Trump administration.
“But to do that, we need a Congress that realizes that they have as much power as the executive branch and stops abdicating its role to the executive branch,” she said.
Historically, Democrats have normally had lackluster turnout in midterm elections, and multiple candidates urged voters to show up at the polls with early voting 12 days away and Election Day only 29 days away. Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who is in a tight race for governor with Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt, said good turnout was key.
“These races are very close,” he said. “The turnout is going to be extremely important.”
All of the politicians speaking to a friendly audience on Monday focused on core issues in the Democratic platform, emphasizing environmental protections, strong unions, expanded health care coverage, including Planned Parenthood funding, and a pathway for immigrants.
“We need a 21st century blueprint for the future, a blueprint that says everybody in our country ought to have health care as a right and not a privilege,” Castro said. “A blueprint that says we need to raise the minimum wage and allow people to organize effectively throughout our country… A blueprint that recognizes a women’s right to make her own decisions about her body.”
In her remarks, Rosen focused less on Kavanaugh and more on rebutting ads from Heller’s campaign that attack her for inexperience. Over the summer, Heller attacked Rosen for accomplishing “zero” in Congress. On Monday, Rosen told her supporters not to believe the ads, that she has had her name on 50 bills that have passed the House of Representatives.
Rosen again pushed back on claims, in a National Republican Senatorial Committee ad, that she inflated her resume by suggesting she “built a business” when she was a consultant.
“An independent consultant operates a business. Period,” she said. “Thank you very much.”
Rosen said that by far, health care was the most pressing issue she hears about from voters, and she slammed Heller’s changing positions on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, as well as the senator’s positions on funding for Planned Parenthood. Rosen’s campaign put up a new ad showing patients with pre-existing conditions criticizing Heller.
“So we are, because of health care, going to repeal and replace Dean Heller,” she said.