By MICHELLE RINDELS
LAS VEGAS — Hillary Clinton won the western battleground of Nevada, bucking a surprising electoral tide that swept Republican Donald Trump into the White House while Democrats held onto the seat of retiring Sen. Harry Reid.
The five-term senator’s hand-picked successor, former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, defeated Republican Rep. Joe Heck and will become the first Latina to serve in the U.S. Senate. State Sen. Ruben Kihuen beat freshman GOP Rep. Cresent Hardy in a key House race, and Nevadans voted to legalize recreational marijuana and tighten gun background checks.
In White Pine County, Trump, Heck and Hardy all had the majority vote.
Here’s a look at the results:
Clinton, whose husband President Bill Clinton twice won the key swing state, picked up Nevada’s six electoral votes with the help of strong precinct-level organizing led by labor unions and Reid, one of the most powerful politicians in state history.
The former U.S. secretary of state’s victory in Nevada marked the first time since the 1940s that Democrats carried the Silver State in three consecutive presidential elections. But it also became only the second time the president-elect has failed to carry Nevada in the 26 presidential elections since 1908 when Republican William Taft defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan but lost the national race.
In 1976, Nevada sided with Republican Gerald Ford when Democrat Jimmy Carter was elected president.
Cortez Masto, Reid’s chosen successor, will carry the torch for him in the U.S. Senate when he retires.
The contest was hard-fought against Heck, who served three terms in the House and had an impressive resume as a doctor and brigadier general. Outside groups spent more than $90 million to influence the race.
Heck struggled to navigate a middle course on his support for Trump after un-endorsing him when lewd comments the president-elect made in 2005 came to light.
He also couldn’t surmount the formidable ground game of Reid-aligned Democrats, who scored a resounding victory on all levels in Nevada in spite of a tide that swept Trump to the presidency.
HEATED HOUSE RACES
Democratic State Sen. Ruben Kihuen defeated freshman incumbent Rep. Cresent Hardy in a district with a double-digit Democratic registration advantage.
Kihuen becomes the first Latino Nevada has elected to the U.S. House. He had support from President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, as well as the powerful Culinary Union that represents his housekeeper mother.
Democratic political newcomer Jacky Rosen, a former synagogue leader, triumphed over frequent candidate Republican Danny Tarkanian in what became the highest-spending House race in the country.
The seat had been held by Republican Heck for three cycles and Tarkanian is well-known as son of legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian. But Democrats, who have a slight registration advantage in the southern Nevada swing district, prevailed.
PREDICTABLE HOUSE RACES
Republican Rep. Mark Amodei comfortably won re-election in a conservative northern Nevada district, but he faced more of a challenge than usual. Democratic radio host Chip Evans ran TV ads condemning Amodei for chairing Trump’s Nevada campaign and for missing votes in Congress.
Democratic incumbent Rep. Dina Titus easily beat her poorly funded opponents in an urban Las Vegas district with a 2-to-1 Democratic registration advantage.
VOTERS IN A ‘YES’ MOOD
Nevadans gave thumbs up to all four statewide ballot measures. They legalized pot for recreational use, tightened background checks for guns and gave first-round approval to breaking up NV Energy’s statewide power-producing monopoly and exempting medical devices like oxygen tanks, feeding pumps, and hospital beds from being taxed.
The gun background checks initiative, Question 1, closes what backers call a legal loophole that lets people skip background screening when buying guns from another person or online. Opponents say it will cost law-abiding gun owners time and money without making them any safer because criminals don’t undergo background checks.
The marijuana initiative, Question 2, will allow possession and use by adults of up to an ounce of marijuana, and tax marijuana sales 15 percent. Proponents said it could generate $20 million a year to help the state’s chronically underfunded schools.
Question 3, a proposed constitutional amendment dubbed the Energy Choice Initiative, and Question 4, the medical device initiative, each need approval again in two years to become part of the state constitution.
Democrats reclaimed control of both houses of the Nevada Legislature after suffering devastating losses in the 2014 midterm election.
The party won two neck-and-neck southern Nevada Senate contests that helped them land a slim 11-10 majority. They also won in a landslide in the Assembly and could claim either 26 or 27 seats in the 42-member chamber.
Several incumbent Republican Assembly members lost seats they’d held in Democratic-leaning districts. One Assembly race favors the Democrat by just three votes; it’s still too close to call.
While Republicans held a 25-17 majority last session, they will be in the minority by even greater proportions next session.
Associated Press writers Ken Ritter and Scott Sonner contributed to this report.