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Nevada Senate Race--Democrat Jacky Rosen v. GOPer Dean Heller

Nevada Congresswoman Jacky Rosen—She Aims to Defeat GOP Senator Dean “Little Hiccup” Heller September 27, 2018

Most American teenagers “get” it. In interviews across the country conducted by the NY Times, adolescents strongly argued that Brett Kavanaugh should be held accountable for his acts as a 17-year old and not get a “free pass” to the U.S. Supreme Court. Fifteen -year old St. Louis high school sophomore Layta King stated, “He should still be held accountable, for his attempted sexual assault upon Christine Blasey Ford, because you’re supposed to know right from wrong by my age (See nytimes.com, Levin, D., 9/21/18).” However, many GOPers, from Donald to the U.S. Senators voting on Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS’ (Supreme Court of the United States) confirmation, don’t “get” it. They see Kavanaugh’s adolescent conduct as “irrelevant” and having no impact on his confirmation. Many teenage girls interviewed saw the attacks on psychologist Dr. Blasey Ford as typical of the way girls are often criticized for calling out mistreatment. Rapid City, SD 17-year old Maycee Wieczorek felt it odd as a student to hear grown ups dismissing Kavanaugh’s high school character. In Ms. Wieczorek’s words, “For me and my friends his past is our now (Levin, nytimes.com).” Ms. Wieczorek worried that if the Senate does not take Dr. Blasey’s allegations seriously, “it will reaffirm the idea that ‘boys will be boys,’ and teach a dangerous lesson to teenagers today.” Brennan Leach, 17, a Wayne, PA high school senior stated that “when a girl has come to school after a weekend party and says someone made her feel uncomfortable, she’s called a ‘drama queen.’ People would say she’s fabricating stories for attention.” According to Ms. Leach, “the language used by a lot of Republicans is eerily similar to the way boys sound in high school (nytimes.com, Levin, 9/21/18).” Kavanaugh has also been accused by then Yale University classmate Deborah Ramirez of exposing himself to her at a party. At Yale, he was no longer a minor (newyorker.com, Farrow & Mayer).

Trump and his “Red” Senate majority could care less. It’s all about rushing this right-wing reactionary to the SCOTUS bench so he can repeal Roe, help the top 1%, and keep Trump from being investigated. Who cares about attempted sexual assault? GOP Senator Dean Heller aptly summed up “Team Red’s” attitude. On a recent conference call, Heller insisted, without even hearing from Dr. Blasey Ford, that Kavanaugh would be confirmed by the GOP-majority Senate. According to the “Nevada Independent,” Heller declared, “We got a little ‘hiccup’ here with the Kavanaugh nomination, we’ll get through this and we’ll get off to the races (shareblue.com, Martin, D., 9/20/18).” Translation: an attempted sexual assault constitutes a mere “hiccup.” A spokesperson for Heller’s Democratic opponent, Cong. Jacky Rosen, stated, “I hope Senator Heller knows that when he shamelessly dismisses allegations of this magnitude against a nominee seeking a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court, Nevada women are listening. Make no mistake, we will hold Senator Heller accountable at the ballot box (shareblue.com, Martin).” Meet Dean Heller.

Second-term Castro Valley, CA native Dean Heller (58) is NV’s senior Senator. As an infant, he moved to Carson City, NV’s capital. His father was an auto mechanic whose customers included a number of state legislators (Barone & CQ 14 Political Almanacs, Medina & Hulse, nytimes.com, 4/22/11). In addition to his father’s connections, Heller had a newspaper route that included deliveries to the state Capitol where he received his first taste of politics. Heller played with Paul Laxalt’s children, NV’s GOP Governor who later became a U.S. Senator and Reagan confidant (Barone &CQ 10). After graduating from USC, Heller worked as a stockbroker trading on the Pacific Stock Exchange. Heller’s GOP laissez-faire conservatism also came from his “self-reliant” Western upbringing. At a wedding, Heller met the late GOP Cong. and 1996 VP candidate Jack Kemp. Kemp’s discussion with Heller about Reagan supply-side economics “locked in” his conservatism (CQ & Barone 10).

In 1989, Heller returned to Carson City to become Deputy GOP State Treasurer. In 1990, Heller won election to the NV State Assembly, serving from 1990-1994. While in the Assembly, Heller worked as a senior commercial banking consultant for the Bank of America (“Nevada Appeal,” 10/16/08, “Las Vegas Review Journal,” Tetreault, 4/27/11). In 1994, Heller was elected NV’s Sec. of State, serving three terms (CQ & Barone 14). When NV 2nd Congressional District GOP Cong. Jim Gibbons successfully ran for Governor, Heller jumped in to replace him. In the 2006 GOP primary, Heller won by 421 votes and won the general election by 5 points. In 2008 and 2010, Heller coasted to victory against his Democratic rivals (ourcampaigns.com, Barone & CQ 14).

NV right-wingers were “pleasantly surprised” by Heller. He voted with his “Red” Team in the 89%-90% range. When he “deviated,” it was usually because the GOP had not gone far right enough. He voted against Obama’s key 2009 stimulus bill that started the economic recovery and against the 2011 budget deal. Failure to pass that bill would have resulted in an economically crippling government shut down. He opposed making it easier for unions, a growing group in NV, to organize. Mormon Heller is a strong social conservative who is anti-choice. He voted to cut funding for Planned Parenthood as early as 2007 and voted against same-sex marriage (CQ & Barone 10, Wash. Post Cong. Votes Database, “Las Vegas Sun”).

In 4/2011, after GOP John Ensign announced his resignation from the U.S. Senate because of his involvement in an extra-marital affair with one of his aides, NV GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval appointed Heller to his seat. In 2012, Heller ran for a full six-year term in a very nasty race. While Obama won NV by a 6% margin, Heller eked out a 1.2% win against 1st Congressional District Cong. Shelley Berkley. Berkley was hurt by a House Ethics Investigation into whether she had used her position to benefit her husband who operated NV dialysis centers. Casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson financially aided Heller. Koch Industries “ponied up” $20, 500 for him (Barone &CQ 14, NY Times, opensecrets.org).

Hillary won NV in 2016 48%-46%. Heller is seen by most political analysts as the most vulnerable GOP Senator in the country. Heller has told people that he doesn’t like his DC job. He really wanted to run for Governor until NV Attorney General Adam Laxalt scared him out of it (See “NV Independent,”6/23/17, foxnews.com, Schallorn). In 2016, Heller called himself “vehemently opposed” to Donald (nytimes.com, 5/13/18). Despite his supposed “vehement opposition” to Trump, Heller has voted with Donald 92.2% of the time (projectsfivethirtyeight.com, shareblue.com, Martin, 9/20/18).

Heller is a “profile in cowardice.” He claims to hear the strong voice of the people, but is easily intimidated back into voting with Donald and “Team Red.” When grass roots Nevada groups lobbied him to vote against school voucher nominee Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary, Koch Industries’ local leader gave Heller additional funds and he supported DeVos’ nomination. Heller’s vote enabled VP Pence to cast the tie breaker on DeVos’ behalf (opensecrets.org, Lattin, 2/02/17, nytimes.com, 2/07/17).

When Trump threatened to support a primary challenge against him, Heller quickly “fell in line.” He avoided direct criticism of Donald and supported his draconian immigration “reforms (CNN, Raju & Bradner).” Heller was initially a strong Obamacare foe. He voted against the bill in 2010 and voted on 1/19/2011 to repeal Obamacare (“Politico,” Budoff Brown, C., 1/19/11). He was for repealing Obamacare with no replacement. For two years, Heller was against Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. When GOP NV Gov. Sandoval argued against repealing Obamacare and expanded Medicaid under it, Heller suddenly “flipped.” He voted “No” on repealing and replacing Obamacare with no replacement (nytimes.com,7/26/17). However, Heller’s new “I’m with Nevadans on saving Obamacare” stand didn’t last long. At a 7/19/2017 GOP lunch, Heller was sitting next to Donald. Trump then threateningly stated, “This (Heller) was the one we were worried about. You weren’t there on (on health care repeal). But you’re gonna be. Look he wants to remain a Senator, doesn’t he (CNN, Cillizza, 7/20/17)?” Bullied and intimidated Heller then voted to open the final debate on repealing health care. He also voted for the repeal Obamacare “skinny bill.” Only dying Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Susan Collins (R-ME) kept that repeal Obamacare bill from passing in the Senate (Lee, et al, NY Times, 7/25/17, CNN, Killough & Nobles). In 3/2018, after being Donald’s health care repeal lackey, Trump endorsed Heller in his Senate bid and convinced his primary challenger Danny Tarkanian to drop out (CNN, Raju& Bradner, CNBC, Pramuk, 3/16/18).

Heller is anti-gun control. From 1998-2016, the NRA gave his campaigns $122,802. The NRA endorsed him in his 2012 run (LA Times, Hiltzik, 10/03/17). Even after the horrific 10/01/2017 Las Vegas mass shooting that left 58 dead and 851 injured, Heller promised he would “protect gun rights and not water down the Second Amendment (washingtontimes.com, Persons, 10/05/17, time.com, Lemire& Colvin).” After that comment, Heller remained silent on the issue of gun safety. He did not meet with Trump to discuss this matter in 3/2018 while numerous other lawmakers who had faced similar massacres in their states did (Peoples.americanbridgepac.org, 3/05/18).

Chicago native Jacky Rosen (61) is Heller’s Democratic opponent. She has lived in NV for nearly 40 years. She grew up in a working- class family and was the first to graduate from college. She waited on tables at Caesars Palace and was a proud member of Culinary Workers Union Local 226. She took out loans and worked as a waitress to pay for her bills when she started her career as a computer programmer and software developer. She worked for major companies in NV and broke barriers in the male-dominated tech industry. She stepped away from her career to take care of her aging and ailing parents and in-laws. She was the former president of the state’s largest synagogue, Reform Temple Ner Tamid in Las Vegas. In 2016, then Sen. Majority Leader Nevada Dem. Harry Reid asked her to run for the NV 3rd Cong. District seat vacated by a GOPer who unsuccessfully ran for the Senate. She successfully “flipped” this House seat in suburban Clark County “Blue.” She works across party lines and has championed early childhood education and math/science education for young girls. She currently serves on the House Armed Services and Science, Space, & Technology Committees (rosenfornevada.com, rgj.com). Rosen decided to run for the Senate to be someone with “the backbone” to oppose Donald. She is pro-choice and endorsed by Planned Parenthood (rosenfornevada.com).

This race in swingy NV is basically a dead heat (reviewjournal.com). Donald has already come out to campaign hard for Heller. Michelle Obama has campaigned for Rosen (reviewjournal.com, 9/19/18). RealClearPolitics gives Rosen a +0.7 margin. Rosen has been hitting Heller hard on his spineless health care flip-flopping. Now, the issue of Heller’s strong support for accused attempted sexual assaulter Judge Kavanaugh has become a hot topic (shareblue.com, Martin, 9/20/18). Turnout will be EVERYTHING. Rosen will need a “y uu ge” vote by women and organized labor. She will need a big turnout in Democratic stronghold Las Vegas in Clark County and in that county’s swingy southern area that she now represents. In 2012, unsuccessful Dem. candidate Berkeley did not get a heavy vote in Clark County to offset Heller’s advantage in rural Washoe County (Barone & CQ 14, NY Times). Former Democrat Sen. Harry Reid’s organization will help Rosen, but GOPers with money from Koch and Adelson will aid Heller. In order for Dems to take back the Senate, Rosen must win. She must make Kavanaugh supporter Heller a “little hiccup” in NV politics.