The political world is a constant battle for control. While there has been only one legitimate recorded event of literal fighting erupting in the nation’s Capitol, an event in which Rep. Preston Brooks nearly beat Sen. Charles Sumner to death with his cane after Sumner’s comments on the Senate floor about the Bleeding Kansas event (1856) had become notably discriminatory toward Southern culture at a time when tensions were beginning to boil over before the onset of the Civil War, the political banter tends to never extend beyond words. But much like the cult epic film “Highlander” from 1986, in the political world “there can be only one.” Though noticeably irrelevant in the eyes of the American populace due to our current fixation on the presidential primary season, Senate campaigns across America are beginning to call together their party’s campaign committees for endorsements and call upon Americans to begin contributing to their individual campaigns. In the Battle Born state, stakes have never been higher. With the announcement that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will be retiring after nearly three decades of service at the nation’s highest legislative body, the reality that the Democratic Party will be losing the head of its Senate leadership with not only a Senate majority up for grabs, but a newly elected president who will be inaugurated in January of next year as well, has set in. And all across Nevada, Democrats and Republicans are preparing for battle.
So why is this so important? Well, it all revolves around the possibilities of the near future. With the end of the 44th presidency, the unfortunate (or fortunate) reality that a new person will inherit the nation’s highest office along with a policy initiative that may completely define the status quo beginning next January has become apparent in the minds of both parties, as they have both undertaken strategic maneuvers to protect their power in the nation’s capital. While President Obama began his presidency with all eyes on how he will attack the financial crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there were not many other immediate initiatives to undertake at the time of his inauguration. In contrast, the next commander in chief with have a plethora of expectations and responsibilities beginning next year that will be greatly affected by the majority in the United States Senate.
But what makes Nevada so special this election cycle? Apart from losing Sen. Reid, the Senate races across the country are extremely competitive this year. According to Politico and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball (a website headed by University of Virginia Professor of Political Science Larry J. Sabato that has notably high rates of accuracy in predicting the outcome of political races across the country), Nevada is one of the only noteworthy tossup states in the country. This means that while while most races can be predicted to be leaning toward or safely protected by a certain party, no political source anywhere in the country has been able to confidently predict a winner in Nevada’s Senate race. And with only six spots separating a majority in the nation’s upper house, the stakes have never been higher.
So who is running to represent the Battle Born state in the nation’s upper house?
Catherine Cortez Masto — Former two-term attorney general, Catherine Masto is a proven candidate within Nevada’s government. A champion for Latinos and female rights in the state of Nevada, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, and has been endorsed by Sen. Harry Reid as his “hand-picked successor” to champion the Democratic cause in the Senate.
Rep. Joseph Heck — Currently representing Nevada’s third district, Rep. Joseph Heck is not only a brigadier general in the United States Army Reserves, but also served as a medical director to his own organization that trained law enforcement and military in emergency medical services. While in the House of Representatives, he has been noted to have sponsored three different pieces of legislation while being a member of three separate House committees. He has also been noted to regularly vote along the Republican party line.
The race will be extremely tight. What will truly be the determinant is who decides to vote in this election cycle. While many will argue that this is an election decided primarily by the millennial generation, which is taking an interest in political activism unlike any generation before it, there is still that pessimistic belief that the millennials will not rise to the challenge. In my opinion, the reality is this: if millennials come to the polls in Nevada’s urbanized areas, Catherine Masto will win this race, even if it is to be by one of the slimmest margins in the state’s history. However, if they do not, Joseph Heck will be the victor. But regardless, do not forget to vote in this year’s Senate race!
Jake Truscott studies journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.