LAS VEGAS — Rep. Joe Heck and former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto sailed to the top of their easy primaries Tuesday, setting up one of the most pivotal U.S. Senate contests in the nation just as expected.
Cortez Masto easily defeated a trio of little-known opponents and Heck scored a comfortable win against conservative activist Sharron Angle in the Nevada primary. They’ll compete for the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid.
“It’s always humbling to get the support of the voters,” Heck said by phone from Washington D.C. on Tuesday night, where he said he was reading bills to prepare for tomorrow’s work in Congress.
While Donald Trump’s presence could sway his election, Heck, who endorses Trump, said he’s focused on his own race: “We’re going to run our campaign according to the plan we’ve laid out.”
Masto issued a prepared statement after her victory, saying it sets up a race between two distinct ideologies.
“I am confident that this November voters will reject Trump and Congressman Heck’s reckless agenda and elect me as our next Senator,” she said.
In other races, Reid-endorsed synagogue leader Jacky Rosen defeated attorney Jesse Sbaih by a wide margin in southern Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District. Sbaih was known for supporting Bernie Sanders for president and for a flap with Reid.
“I felt confident, but it’s a bigger margin than I thought. We were out there and able to get our message,” Rosen said.
She’ll face the winner of a bitterly competitive Republican primary that hasn’t yet been called. She said she’ll worry about that tomorrow.
“I think I’m going to enjoy tonight,” Rosen said.
Incumbent Democratic Rep. Dina Titus scored an easy win in her heavily Democratic Las Vegas district, while Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy bested his primary opponents.
Talk radio host Chip Evans won a three-way Democratic primary to oppose incumbent Rep. Mark Amodei in Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District.
Amodei ran unopposed to win the GOP primary. Evans topped businessman Rick Shepherd and family practice physician Vance Alm.
Amodei has represented the northern Nevada district since 2011.
A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske said total turnout was expected to be close to the 2014 primary election, when 19.3 percent of active registered voters participated.
No major snags were reported, but spokeswoman Kaitlin Barker says the Secretary of State received some reports of minor issue at some polling locations. She wasn’t specific.