Newspaper article Roll Call

A Silver State Waiting Game

Newspaper article Roll Call

A Silver State Waiting Game

Article excerpt

The news Republican Rep. Joe Heck could run for the now-open Nevada Senate seat has shifted the landscape in the Silver State.

Since Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced his retirement, Heck has said he is reconsidering his earlier declaration he would not get in the race. By all accounts, he would be one of the strongest candidates on the Republican side.

"I think a lot of people are waiting on Congressman Heck's decision. If there is anyone in the field who could prevent a messy primary, it is probably Congressman Heck," said Nevada Republican consultant Robert Uithoven.

Heck, a brigadier general in the Army Reserves, is well- respected among Nevada Republicans. He has had proven success winning in the competitive 3rd District, pulling off a 7-point victory in 2012, even as President Barack Obama won the swing territory by 1 percent. Heck would also start with a financial advantage, having finished the first quarter with $920,000 in his campaign account.

The Republican field has been slow to develop, in part because the focus has been on the legislative session. Operatives expect the race will heat up in June, once the Legislature wraps up.

There is one Republican already in the race -- Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers -- but sources said he is not expected to be a factor.

And multiple sources suggested Heck could clear the field if he jumps in.

For starters, state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson would likely run for Heck's highly competitive House seat instead of the Senate, a Nevada Republican said.

Other sources said they would expect former state Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert, who served as Gov. Brian Sandoval's chief of staff, to defer to Heck if he enters the race.

One-time possible candidate Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison has told confidantes he won't run, and Republican Sen. Dean Heller told CQ Roll Call Hutchison is "not interested," in the seat. …

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