Catherine Cortez Masto: Nevada elects first Latina to US Senate

'It’s about time our government mirrors the diversity of our nation'

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In a divisive US election that sent shock waves across the world on Tuesday, one result proved a silver lining for those who had hoped for a historic female presidency. 

Voters in Nevada elected America’s first ever Latina to the US Senate, one of four women of colour to gain a seat in 2016. 

Catherine Cortez Masto received 49 per cent of the vote to beat her opponent, Republican congressman Joe Heck, by five percentage points.

The 52-year-old, whose grandfather immigrated to the US from Chihuahua, Mexico, will join Mazie Hirono, a Japanese-American representing Hawaii; Kamala Harris, the senator-elect from California who is both black and Indian-American; and Tammy Duckworth, an Asian representative for Illinois as the four women of colour in the 100-seat Senate.

"I want you to know this isn't my win, it is our win. We did this together," Ms Cortez Masto said in her victory speech on Tuesday night, NBC news reports.

"As I look at the room right now, I can see there is just an incredible, incredible group of people out here. The multi-coloured fabric of Nevada, the diversity here, is our strength and I can see from your faces that we are going to continue to be strong and continue to fight for our families, for our future - here in Nevada and across this country."

Ms Cortez Masto served as Nevada’s Attorney General from 2007 to 2015 and she became known for her investigation into the raising of interest rates on financially unstable buyers by the Bank of America.

Following the result Ms Cortez Masto tweeted: “I’m proud to be Nevada’s 1st female and our nation’s 1st Latina senator. It’s about time our government mirrors the diversity of our nation.”

Her supporters also took to Twitter to celebrate her win. “We couldn’t elect a first female president, but we did elect the first Latina senator,” one said. Another called her victory "the tiniest speck of light". 

"This moment is long overdue and the entire Emily’s List community is proud to celebrate this historic victory," said Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily's List, which has supported Cortez Masto since the start of her campaign, Refinery29 reported. 

Ms Cortez Masto’s win comes amid other notable Latino gains in the 2016 elections as Democrat Darren Soto became the first Puerto Rican to represent Florida in the House of Representatives and Democrat Adriano Espaillat became the first Dominican American to be elected to Congress.