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Cortez Masto lines up high-powered endorsements for Reid’s seat

A diverse group of Nevadans, from former U.S. Senator Richard Bryan to Latino leader Otto Merida, on Thursday endorsed Catherine Cortez Masto to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Reid already gave Cortez Masto his political blessing when the former Nevada attorney general first announced her Senate campaign in April, anointing the Democrat and dissuading any primary competition.

The initial list of “Nevadans for Masto” released Thursday includes 13 community leaders from Southern Nevada and six from Northern Nevada.

“I am honored to have the support of such a diverse coalition of leaders from across our state who share my commitment to protecting Nevada families,” said Cortez Masto. “I’ve spent my life fighting to protect Nevada seniors, children, women, consumers, and homeowners from predators. It’s what I did as Attorney General, and what I will do if elected to the United States Senate.”

Cortez Masto served two, four-year terms as attorney general but was termed out. She sat out the 2014 election as she considered her next step.

Bryan, a former governor and one of the state’s most respected Democrats, will co-chair her campaign.

“I know what it takes to be an effective senator, and I know that Catherine has it,” Bryan said in a statement. “As Attorney General, Catherine made protecting Nevada families her first priority. She went after scam artists, worked with law enforcement to combat drug abuse and sex trafficking, and was an important partner in the fight to prevent Nevada from turning into a nuclear waste dump.”

Former Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley said Cortez Masto worked closely with law endorsement as attorney general.

“I can think of no one better qualified to protect Nevada families in the Senate,” Haley said in a statement.

Merida, head of the Latin Chamber of Commerce and a registered Republican, said, “The Latino community is excited about electing Catherine to be the first Latina ever elected to the United States Senate. Catherine will be a strong advocate for the issues that matter to our community: creating jobs, improving education, and passing comprehensive immigration reform.”

Other endorsements include Barbara Buckley, former speaker of the Nevada Assembly; Sheila Leslie, a former state senator; Eddie Escobedo Jr., publisher of the newspaper El Mundo; Hannah Brown, past president of the Urban Chamber of Commerce; Rozita Lee, an Asian-American and Pacific Islander community advocate; Bob Fulkerson, of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada; Robert Conway, business representative of Ironworkers Local #433; Cedric Crear, a state higher education regent; Linda Faiss and Helen Foley, both community advocates; Jerry Keller, former Clark County sheriff; Sylvia Lazos, vice-president of the Latino Leadership Council; Pat Mulroy, former head of the Southern Nevada Water Authority; Frankie Sue Del Papa, former Nevada attorney general; and Kate Marshall, former Nevada state treasurer.

No major Republican has yet to enter the race. State GOP leaders see Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval as the strongest potential contender for the open seat, though he hasn’t shown interest in the job. U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., is now considering the race after being pressured to run.

Other potential candidates are former Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison and state Treasurer Dan Schwartz. Sharron Angle, a tea party darling who lost to Reid in 2010, has also said she hasn’t ruled out running.

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