Former Sen. Heller launches GOP gubernatorial run in Nevada

Heller joins increasingly crowded field of GOP contenders running to challenge Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak

Saying that he’s "had it" with Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak of Nevada, former Sen. Dean Heller on Monday launched a 2022 Republican gubernatorial campaign in the Silver State. 

"Right now in Nevada working people are getting crushed by this governor. Mask mandates. Defunding the police. Endless lockdowns," Heller charges in a campaign video announcing his candidacy. 


"I’m sick of seeing abortion clinics open while churches and schools are closed. My grandkids playing soccer in masks. That’s all on Gov. Sisolak," Heller argues in the video. "I’m running for governor because Nevada deserves a whole lot better than this guy."

Heller is a former Nevada secretary of state and thee-term congressman who was appointed to the Senate by then-GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval to fill the seat left vacant when Republican Sen. John Ensign resigned amid a scandal. Heller won a full six-year term in 2012 but was defeated for reelection in 2018.

"After serving Nevada in the Senate, I thought I was done with politics," Heller said. 


But he charged "look what’s happened to Nevada. We have a governor more interested in putting us out of work than putting us back to work. Las Vegas became a sanctuary city. Violent crime’s exploding. People who work for a living are scared. And I’ve had it."

In his 2018 reelection campaign, Heller ran more as a centrist Republican, emphasizing his abilities to get things accomplished by reaching across the aisle. But this time around he appears to be taking a much more conservative approach as he enters an already crowded primary field.

"Heller’s a pro-life conservative. He’s been endorsed by the NRA before," the narrator in the campaign video spotlights.

And in a nod to former President Trump, who remains extremely influential in GOP politics as he continues to play a kingmaker’s role in the 2022 Republican primaries, the narrator highlights that Heller "as secretary of state, led the fight against voter fraud long before it was popular." A picture of Heller and his wife joining then-President Trump aboard Air Force One is seen as the narrator speaks.

Heller becomes the seventh Republican in Nevada’s gubernatorial race. Among those already running are North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, a Democrat turned Republican, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, businessman and self-described "political outsider" Guy Nohra, and attorney Joey Gilbert.


Rep. Mark Amodei (NV-02) has also mulled making a GOP gubernatorial bid.

The Democratic Governors Association took aim at Heller following his announcement

"Dean Heller has always let his desire for power guide his actions rather than the needs of Silver State voters. That’s why Nevadans rejected his spinelessness once already," DGA communications adviser Christina Amestoy charged. "As he races to the right in a messy primary to try to resurrect his failed political career, Nevadans won’t forget how he tossed their values aside."

Sisolak, the former chair of the Clark County Commission overseeing the Las Vegas Strip, won election as governor in 2018 by four points, becoming the battleground state’s first Democratic governor in two decades.