Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto announced on Thursday that she was withdrawing her name from former Vice President Joe Biden’s search for a running mate.
Cortez Masto was considered a serious candidate for the job and was getting pushed by top Democrats like former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who had directly lobbied Biden about possibly picking his home state senator.
Cortez Masto said that while it was “an honor to be considered as a potential running mate,” she had decided to withdraw her name from consideration.
“I support Joe Biden 100% and will work tirelessly to help get him elected this November,” she said. “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 on back on their feet.”
Masto directly informed the Biden search committee about her decision to pull her name from consideration before announcing it on Thursday, a source familiar with the senator’s thinking told CNN.
Speaking at Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service on Thursday evening, Cortez Masto explained that her focus “really is on my state right now” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“My fight is in the Senate on behalf of the state of Nevada and that’s my commitment,” she said. “I can’t walk away from that right now.”
The decision to withdraw her name was one the senator made with her husband, Paul Masto, the source said.
In a statement on Thursday night, Biden said he was looking forward to seeing what Cortez Masto would do in the Senate.
“I’ve admired Senator Cortez-Masto as long as I have known her because she’s a leader with integrity,” Biden said. “Nevadans are fortunate to have her fighting for them in Washington and I look forward to seeing her continue to lead in the Senate.”
Reid, a longtime friend to both Cortez Masto and her family, was the senator’s biggest proponent and had talked directly with Biden about picking the freshman Nevada senator as his running mate, an aide to Reid told CNN.
“I can’t say enough about my admiration for Sen. Cortez Masto,” Reid told CNN in a statement. “She is a truly gifted leader who always puts Nevada first, and I will continue supporting her however I can. Her leadership will be critical as Nevada and the country recovers from this public health and economic crisis.”
Cortez Masto, a native Nevadan, began her public service career in 2006 when she successfully became the state’s attorney general. In that role, the would-be senator was first introduced to the Biden family – she worked with Beau Biden, the former vice president’s late son who served as Delaware’s attorney general.
“I’ve known Joe Biden for nearly 10 years, but he wasn’t the first member of the Biden family I met. It was actually his late son, Beau, a fellow state attorney general, my partner in many important fights and a dear friend,” Cortez Masto wrote in her first email on behalf of the Biden campaign this year. “As I got to know Joe personally, it was clear the apple had not fallen far from the tree.”
Cortez Masto was elected to the Senate in 2016, filling the seat once held by Reid. She became Nevada’s first female senator and the nation’s first Latina senator.
The Nevada senator is not the first lawmaker to pull her name from Biden’s search. New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen informed Joe Biden’s presidential campaign recently that she is not interested in being vetted to be the presumptive Democratic nominee’s running mate, a source with knowledge of the conversations told CNN.
Biden’s search is just beginning. The former vice president said he hopes to name his selection around August 1.
CNN’s Caroline Kenny and Sarah Mucha contributed to this report.