Sen. Cortez Masto withdraws name from Biden VP consideration

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada said Thursday that she’s not interested in serving as running mate to presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Cortez Masto, who in 2016 became the first Latina elected to the U.S. Senate, said in a statement that she supports the former vice president but does not want to join the Democratic presidential ticket.

“I support Joe Biden 100% and will work tirelessly to help get him elected this November. It is an honor to be considered as a potential running mate but I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration,” Cortez Masto said in a statement.

She noted that Nevada’s economy is one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus, with the worst unemployment rate in the nation at 28.2%. She said she will focus on getting Nevada residents back on their feet.

Later Thursday, during an online discussion hosted by the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service, Cortez Masto said it was exciting and humbling to have been considered but noted that she was elected to a six-year senatorial term.

“My fight is in the Senate, on behalf of the state of Nevada, and that’s my commitment. I can’t walk away from that right now,” she said.

In a statement released by his campaign Thursday night, Biden said he’s admired Cortez Masto as long as he’s known her and called her a “leader with integrity.”

“Nevadans are fortunate to have her fighting for them in Washington and I look forward to seeing her continue to lead in the Senate,” he said.

Cortez Masto is one of more than 10 women whose names have been suggested as possible running mates for Biden, who has committed to picking a woman.

Cortez Masto, 56, was one of the highest-profile Latinas believed to be on Biden’s short list of potential running mates. Some activists had suggested she could have helped Biden win over Hispanics whose support could be crucial to winning the presidency in November.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, another Latina, is also believed to be on Biden’s short list.

Cortez Masto did not endorse Biden until late April. Biden finished a distant second in Nevada’s February caucuses to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose win was fueled by strong Latino support.

Cortez Masto had demurred in the past about whether she’d be interested in serving as Biden’s running mate, saying that it was flattering to be considered but that she was focused on her role in the Senate.

She is a former Nevada attorney general who was recruited by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to run for his seat in 2016 when he retired.

Before serving eight years as Nevada’s attorney general, she was a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C.