Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, the first Latina elected to the Senate, took herself off of Joe Biden’s list for potential vice presidential candidates this week. In a statement obtained by the Washington Post, she said that she’s decided to focus her energy on addressing the coronavirus pandemic in Nevada.
“It is an honor to be considered as a potential running mate but I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration,” she said in a statement on Thursday. “Nevada’s economy is one of the hardest hit by the current crisis and I will continue to focus on getting Nevadans the support they need to get back on their feet.”
The news isn’t completely out of left field. Back in November, when Cortez Masto emerged as a possible running mate for Biden, she told CBS News that she’d decline the position if offered it. The day that she announced she’d backed away as a possible VP, Nevada’s unemployment soared to a record-breaking 28%, the highest in the country and the highest for any state since 1976, as NPR points out.
Still, Cortez Masto might be met with some disappointment for those who were urging Biden to examine Latina VP possibilities. In a recent Politico article, several Latino leaders and advocacy organizations emphasized how crucial it was for Biden to seriously consider Cortez Masto, as well as other Latinas who could help strengthen bonds with the Latino community.
“If you really like somebody and you’d like them to be considered then speak up… I think that Latino organizations should be speaking up for having a Latina vice presidential candidate,” Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.), head of the campaign arm for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, told Politico. “I personally have spoken up and I’ll continue to do that.”
The campaign’s approach toward Latino constituents has come under fire by Latino groups, with many calling out the team for failing to come up with a unified strategy to address the community. The campaign is reportedly still considering New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, though it’s unclear if there are other Latinas who have been vetted or approached. Other people that insiders believe Biden is holding conversations with include Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Georgia state representative Stacey Abrams.
In a statement, Biden sang Sen. Cortez-Masto phrases, saying, “I’ve admired Senator Cortez-Masto as long as I have known her because she’s a leader with integrity.”