Drought in Western US heats up as a Senate campaign issue

RENO, Nev. (AP) — In a midterm campaign season dominated by inflation, abortion and crime, there’s another issue that is becoming more urgent in Western states:

drought. The topic of water historically has played little to no role in campaign ads in much of the region, but funding to fight drought is coming up now in door-knocking

campaigns and is on the long list of talking points that advocacy groups are using to rally voters in two states with vulnerable Democratic incumbents and looming water cuts:

Nevada and Arizona. “This issue appeals to the economic anxiety of our voters and our people,” said Angel Lazcano, a Las Vegas-based organizer for Somos Votantes, which

seeks to mobilize Latino voters across swing states. Federal officials recently announced that Nevada and Arizona would get far less water in 2023 as the stranglehold on the

Colorado River worsens because of drought, climate change and demand. The federal government threatened to impose deeper, broader cuts if the seven states that depend on the

waterway can’t agree on how to use less. The two vulnerable incumbents whose states are hit hardest by the cuts — Catherine Cortez Masto, of Nevada, and Mark Kelly, of

Arizona — seized on the opportunity to seek funding through the federal legislation. They were joined by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who is seeking reelection in Colorado, and

Arizona’s Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. The four Western senators negotiated $4 billion in last-minute funding to help address the region’s growing water crisis in the Inflation Reduction

Act.