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Catherine Cortez Masto's doggedness pays off for Nevada Democrats

In her second term, expect Cortez Masto to buck the party at times.

Nevada's Catherine Cortez Masto has been re-elected to the U.S. Senate, NBC News projects. The state's Democrats have frequently outperformed expectations in recent elections, and history repeated itself Tuesday, with Cortez Masto defeating Republican Adam Laxalt for a second term.

The first Latina elected to the Senate, Cortez Masto served two terms as the state’s attorney general. Observers have long described her as a “workhorse,” and in 2016, retiring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid endorsed her as his successor. With that backing came Reid’s top-drawer turnout machine, which, along with a similar operation run by the Culinary Workers Union, has driven Democrats to frequently outperform pre-election polls.

Cortez Masto’s doggedness and those turnout operations helped her win election to the Senate in 2016, and re-election on Tuesday, despite Nevada’s above-average inflation and unemployment rates.

In her second term, expect Cortez Masto to buck the party at times: According to FiveThirtyEight, she voted with President Joe Biden less than any Democrat other than Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and tied with her fellow Nevadan Jacky Rosen. But that doesn’t mean she’ll be a thorn in the party’s side: During the campaign, Cortez Masto touted Democratic achievements like the Inflation Reduction Act and hammered Laxalt on abortion. Her success could be a model for purple-state Democrats going forward.