Catherine Cortez Masto Becomes First Latina to Lead DSCC

A Nevada Democrat will be returning to the leadership table

Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, left, seen here campaigning in October with now Sen.-elect Jacky Rosen, is expected to be announced as the next leader of the DSCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Nevada senator is once again a key member of Senate Democratic leadership.

First-term Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto was announced as the next chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Thursday, becoming the first Latina to lead the committee.

Catherine Cortez Masto was our first choice for DSCC Chairwoman because she has demonstrated the attributes we want in a leader: she breaks glass ceilings, is hardworking, astute politically, an outstanding fundraiser and respected by every member of our caucus," Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said in a statement. The news was first reported by the Nevada Independent.

Cortez Masto will be succeeding Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland in the role of DSCC chair. And she will be only the second woman to hold the job. The first was Assistant Democratic Leader Patty Murray of Washington, who served twice.

While Republicans hold a conference election for the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairmanship, the Democrats take a different approach. Schumer, a two-time chairman of the campaign arm himself, gets to make an appointment to the post, and most signs were pointing toward the Nevada senator.

After her name was first floated, Cortez Masto could be seen in the Capitol this week coming and going from Schumer’s leadership suite.

Cortez Masto is a former Nevada state attorney general who ran for and won the Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of longtime Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. In addition to being the second woman to helm the committee, she would also be the second Hispanic, following Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

There has been perhaps no more effective Democratic party organization in recent years than the Nevada state party, which has built a diverse coalition centered in the largely Latino communities of Las Vegas and in alignment with Culinary Union Local 226.

Nevada voters voted in 2018 to send Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen to join Cortez Masto in the Senate, defeating Republican incumbent Sen. Dean Heller.

The DSCC is expected to be on offense for the 2020 cycle, with far more Republican-held seats up for re-election than Democratic ones. 

Cortez Masto and incoming NRSC Chairman Todd Young, R-Ind., will also be facing the unpredictability of another presidential cycle, with a slew of Senate Democrats testing the waters of presidential campaigns and President Donald Trump seeking to motivate his base to re-elect him for a second term.

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