Cortez Masto campaign buys first TV ads as re-election bid ramps up
Amid rising inflation, soaring gas prices and uncertainty over the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s re-election campaign is touting the local impact of federal COVID relief efforts in a pair of television ads beginning Tuesday — her first major advertising investment of the 2022 cycle.
The pair of 30-second spots home in on aid packages that targeted Nevada’s hospitality and tourism sectors — both pillars of the state economy ravaged by the early restrictions used to mitigate the spread of COVID in 2020.
The Cortez Masto campaign did not reveal how much money it spent on the ad buy, nor did it specify how long the ads would air. A spokesman for the Democrat did confirm they would air statewide.
The first ad, centered on Las Vegas resident Gladis Blanco, follows Blanco as she goes through her day as a hotel housekeeper and praises Cortez Masto for having “led the fight to protect Nevada.” A news headline — “Nevada to get billions in COVID Relief Package” — scrolls by.
That headline, from last spring, marks the passage of the American Rescue Plan, which will send more than $6.7 billion to Nevada over the next five years.
It has been one of few landmark legislative achievements for the Biden administration, which has otherwise watched many of its major policy priorities stall in a narrowly divided Senate.
The other, Northern Nevada-centered ad focuses on co-owner of the MidTown Reno restaurant Süp, Kasey Christensen, who also praises Cortez Masto for bringing in COVID relief.
“And while things aren’t all the way back yet, if it weren’t for Catherine Cortez Masto, we would all be worse off,” Christensen says in the ad.
The pandemic economy has continued in a state of flux, with routinely high monthly jobs numbers overshadowed by rapidly rising costs for housing, energy and food. That inflation — the highest in more than 40 years — has contributed to an approval rating for Biden that has for months been underwater, including in Nevada.
Cortez Masto’s two likeliest Republican opponents — former Attorney General Adam Laxalt and veteran or business owner Sam Brown — have both reserved TV air time in the final eight weeks before the June primary election.
Laxalt also began running a contrast ad, titled “Something Big,” last week. In that spot, a narrator proclaims that “America has had enough” over footage of the protests and riots of 2020 and heated anti-mask commenters at a Clark County School District meeting before playing archival audio of former President Donald Trump saying that Laxalt is “a great guy, great talent, he’s going places.”
Brown’s campaign, though it has secured airtime, has not yet begun TV running ads.
In an election year that has presented national Republicans with their best chance of winning the House and the Senate since 2016, Cortez Masto’s election will likely be one of a handful of Senate contests that decides control of the Senate.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which ranks the competitiveness of federal elections each cycle, rated Nevada’s Senate race as one of just three “toss-ups,” alongside Arizona and Georgia.
Though polling has so far been rare through the early months of the campaign, a handful of surveys has shown either a close race or a race within the margin of error.
A Nevada Independent/OH Insights poll from early February found Cortez Masto with a 9-point lead in a hypothetical head-to-head with Laxalt, leading 44 percent to 35 percent with a 3.6 percent margin of error.
However, a partisan poll from the Republican-leaning Trafalgar group last November showed Laxalt leading by 3 points, within the 3.5 percent margin of error, while another nonpartisan survey from The Nevada Independent and the Mellman Group last October showed Cortez Masto up by 4.3 points, with a 4 point margin of error.
For a full list of advertisements running as part of the 2022 midterm elections, visit The Nevada Independent’s campaign ad tracker here.