President Trump nudged GOP challenger Danny Tarkanian out of Nevada’s Senate race on Friday, convincing him to drop his primary bid against incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in return for a Trump endorsement in a House race instead.
Tarkanian, a conservative businessman in Nevada and son of legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, had been challenging Heller in this year’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.
But on Friday, Trump tweeted: “It would be great for the Republican Party of Nevada, and it’s unity if good guy Danny Tarkanian would run for Congress and Dean Heller, who is doing a really good job, could run for Senate unopposed!”
Shortly after that tweet, Tarkanian, who has previously unsuccessfully sought public office before, released a statement saying he planned to drop out of the Senate race and run in the third congressional district.
He said Trump and his political team reached out to him on Wednesday and “asked me to consider supporting the America First agenda as a congressional candidate” in the third district. Tarkanian lost to Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen by just one point in 2016. Rosen is now running as a Democrat for the Senate.
Trump won the district by around one point in 2016.
“With President Trump's full support and endorsement, I am filing to run again in CD3 with the firm belief that we will finish what we started in 2016 and win in 2018,” Tarkanian said.
Tarkanian’s wife thanked Trump for his endorsement in a tweet on Friday.
“Thank you Mr. President for supporting my husband @DannyTarkanian & the Nevada Republican Party overall. He would've made an excellent Senator, but will also make a tremendous member of Congress...looking fwd to continuing the fight in helping implement America first policies!” Amy Tarkanian tweeted.
Heller is considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans running for re-election in the Senate this year. His seat is the only one up for grabs in a state carried by Democrat Hillary Clinton when Trump won in 2016.
Fox News’ Mike Emanuel, Chad Pergram, Ben Florance, Jason Donner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.