Nevada Senate race between Heller, Rosen is one Democrats hope to flip: A look at the candidates

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With less than two months to go before November’s midterm elections, President Trump is traveling to Nevada to lend his support for an incumbent senator at risk of losing his seat.

While Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has faced tight races in the past, he’s never lost an election. But Democrats see an opportunity to make this the first for him – and gain headway in taking control of the Senate.

Trump lost Nevada in the 2016 election to Democrat Hillary Clinton, 46 percent to 48 percent, respectively. Fox News has ranked the Senate race a tossup.

Read on for a look at the candidates.

Dean Heller

GOP Sen. Dean Heller is facing a tough re-election campaign.

GOP Sen. Dean Heller is facing a tough re-election campaign. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

A longtime Nevada politician, incumbent Sen. Dean Heller has served in his current role since 2011, when he was first appointed to the seat. Prior to that, Heller represented the 2nd congressional district in the House and served as Nevada’s secretary of state.

At one point, Heller dismissed Trump and returned a campaign donation. But now, Heller has – for the most part – aligned himself with the president on certain issues, including tax reform, stronger border security and supporting gun rights.

“Eighty percent of what this president has done has been very, very good, very positive,” Heller said. “The other 20 percent … he has a reality show. I get it. It’s a reality show.”


Trump has backed Heller in the race.

His goal for this election, he told the Washington Examiner, is to keep the focus of the campaign on Nevada, instead of Washington, D.C., some 2,400 miles away. And to be sure, his campaign website says he approaches policy issues with one question in mind: “How does it affect Nevada?”

In his last election, which was in 2012, Heller had a one-point victory over Democrat Shelley Berkley.

This time around, Heller benefits from more name recognition in the state as well as a heftier campaign coffer. He’s outraised Jacky Rosen so far, with $10.6 million in campaign contributions compared to her $9.2 million.

Jacky Rosen

Rep. Jacky Rosen is hoping to unseat incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada.

Rep. Jacky Rosen is hoping to unseat incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Rep. Jacky Rosen is a first-term congresswoman, having only been elected in 2016. But Democrats are banking on her as an option to flip control of the Senate back to them.

A former synagogue leader, Rosen is a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus and touts her efforts for bipartisanship in Congress on her campaign website.

“I’m going to try to give people someone to vote for instead of something to vote against,” she previously told Politico, adding, “I believe I’m going to win this race.”


Rosen has lived in Nevada for almost 40 years and was the first person in her family to graduate from college, according to her campaign website. To do that, she was a waitress and continued to work weekends at banquets when she began her career as a software developer.

Rosen has been endorsed by former President Barack Obama and EMILY’s List, a pro-choice organization.

She supports access to abortion, a pathway to citizenship for those protected under DACA and more stringent gun control, especially in the wake of the Las Vegas concert shooting in 2017 that left 58 people dead.

She hasn’t shied away from criticizing the president or hitting Heller over support for his policies, including when it comes to immigration, efforts to repeal ObamaCare, the Republican-led tax reform and his backing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

While Heller has outraised Rosen so far, outside groups have poured $17 million into the race – with about $10 million going to either support Rosen or oppose Heller, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.