Out of the Blue: Catherine Cortez Masto for Senate (opinion) | SierraSun.com

Out of the Blue: Catherine Cortez Masto for Senate (opinion)

Mike Restaino
Out of the Blue

The debate between U.S. Senate candidates Catherine Cortez Masto and Joe Heck last Friday was a feisty, rollicking affair, and not just because its two participants were so aggressive and fired up.

I’ve watched and rewatched segments of 2016’s first two presidential match-ups, analyzing the value and quicksand in various responses offered by Hillary and Donald, but watching this senate argument made me realize how critical Harry Reid’s seat in the chamber truly is — for both parties.

Sure, there was talk about Clinton and Trump and a handful of other questions that have been beaten to death by the talking head media — less than three weeks before this election’s over, kids! — but once Heck and Cortez Masto got around to discussing issues regarding Nevada specifically, I leaned forward toward my television set and really started paying attention.

I guess that’s what centered this debate for me; these weren’t big-time television stars staging a clash of the titans on an international scale: these were local politicos talking about topics I was going to be voting on as a registered Washoe County Democrat next month. This was an ‘in my backyard’ moment.

If we’re to believe the juggernaut of commercials that we all are tired of seeing during football game breaks, we should consider Catherine Cortez Masto’s election a “dangerous” thing, but while it should come as no surprise which side of the issues I’m on as an audience member, I thought she wiped the floor with Joe Heck Friday night.

It wasn’t a flawless pirouette of a victory, but Cortez Masto showcased a sensational ability to be clear and emphatic while (more importantly) being able to constantly turn the conversation back to Heck’s shotty history in the senate and his twisty ties to discrimination both on the national ticket and within his own family.

Some legitimate face time was spent prodding Heck about how that tape of Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault finally convinced the senator to revoke his endorsement of the candidate. He made a very personal plea about how, as a onetime emergency room doctor, he’d tended to victims of assault, and that before they were married, his wife had been a victim of domestic violence — this was something that hit home for him.

Yet while he didn’t acknowledge the sinister qualities of Trump’s “locker room talk” until earlier this month, Cortez Masto did not hesitate to nail him on the subject, asking him directly why it took him so long to wake up about how sleazy the Republican presidential nominee was.

Heck was able to keep an even footing with Cortez Masto when it came to topics like taxes and the housing crisis in Nevada – both made strong points, neither provided many details — but when the debate got around to the background check ballot issue and the controversial concept of the USA (and Nevada in particular) screening incoming refugees from places like Syria, Cortez Masto came into her own.

She agreed with Heck that a very strict vetting process was mandatory, but that this screening shouldn’t affect our country’s efforts to help these folks, many of which are endangered women and children.

And I know a lot of Bonanza readers are big NRA supporters — my dad just returned from his annual goose hunting trip in Canada (he got a limit!) — but when Joe Heck rejected universal background checks because that might criminalize someone who lends a gun to somebody else, his rhetoric came across as seeming more than a little flimsy.

I’m a Constitutional Democrat, and therefore believe in the second amendment as a bedrock, but it didn’t take long for Heck to run out of reasons why it should not be legal to purchase a firearm on the internet.

Joe Heck has a lot of experience and is a well-spoken guy, but between his son’s racist comments about Cortez Masto’s Mexican heritage and his still-threatening proximity to Donald Trump within his party, he’s is a vulnerable incumbent.

It’s going to be a tight finish, and this particular campaign has seen money flood into it — at this point most networks will air one or more ad for either candidate every prime time half hour — but even though this debate of theirs was the only one they’ll have, I have a feeling Catherine Cortez Masto’s calm demeanor and lucid representation of issues will sway much of the undecided vote (the last poll puts that number at about 20%).

She reminded me how proud I am to be a Nevada Democrat. Let’s get her elected!

Mike Restaino is a writer and filmmaker based out of Incline Village. He is also a Vice Chair of the North Tahoe Democrats. He can be reached at info@northtahoedems.org.