Catherine Cortez Masto
Catherine Marie Cortez Masto is the junior Senator from Nevada. When she took office on January 3, 2017, she became the first woman elected to represent Nevada in the Senate and the first Latina ever elected to serve in the Senate! She is a member of the Democratic Party, and previously served for eight years as the 32nd Attorney General of Nevada.
Cortez Masto identifies wIth both sides of her heritage, and she argues that it makes her better able to represent her diverse state.
She said, “I’ve always felt, particularly as the Attorney General of the state, that the people that served in my office should be just as diverse as the community we are representing. I think that should be true of Congress.”
She believes that, as someone with a different background than most people in Congress, she brings “a different perspective” and promises to focus, in particular, on passing comprehensive immigration reform and advocating for Dreamers. “We’re working on a future for everyone,” she said.
Cortez Masto was born in Las Vegas to Joanna (Musso) and Manny Cortez. Her father is of Mexican descent and her mother is of Italian descent. Her paternal grandfather immigrated to Nevada from the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Her father was the longtime head of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and served as a County Commissioner and as an attorney for the County. Interestingly, he was also longtime friends with. Catherine’s senate predecessor Harry Reid. Reid endorsed Cortez Masto as his successor and put his political capital behind her candidacy.
Cortez Masto graduated from University of Nevada-Reno where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1986 and from Gonzaga University School of Law where she earned a J.D. in 1990. She took her first step into politics in 1995, joining the staff of Nevada’s then-governor, Democrat Bob Miller. In November 2003, Cortez Masto was named executive vice chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. She worked as a civil attorney in Vegas and as a prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. before being elected Nevada Attorney General in 2006. Cortez Masto defeated Joe Heck in the U.S. Senate election in Nevada with 47% of the vote to replace outgoing Democratic Senator Harry Reid.
Cortez Masto defended the state of Nevada’s position in the lawsuit Sevcik v. Sandoval. The lawsuit challenged Nevada’s denial of same-sex marriage as prohibited by the state’s constitution and statutory law. After initially defending the state’s same-sex marriage ban, Cortez Masto and the state abandoned their defense of the ban in light of a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Cortez Masto is active on many senate committees including Indian Affairs; Aging; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; and Energy and Natural Resources. She supports increased investments in renewable energy technology, and believes that the federal government should limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. She is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues. Cortez Masto is a gun owner but strongly supports gun control. During the 2016 election, the NRA spent $1 million on an ad against her. Cortez Masto co-sponsored a bill to ban bump stocks. She stated that, although the bill cannot bring back the lives of those lost, it can be a start towards decreasing gun violence and mass shootings. She has also co-sponsored the Marketplace Certainty Act to bring more stability to the healthcare marketplace in lieu of insurance providers leaving the Obamacare program. She supports the DREAM Act and gay marriage.
Catherine is married to Paul Masto, a former Special Agent in the United States Secret Service.
Karson Baldwin, Project RACE Teens President
Official Photo of US Senator: public domain