Exclusive — Tarkanian: Sen. Dean Heller Can’t Win…I Can, Here’s Why

Danny Tarkanian
AP/John Locher

For months now, the consensus of everybody on both sides of the political aisle is that Nevada’s U.S. Senate seat is the most likely to flip from Republican to Democrat.

They point out that Nevada is the only state won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 that now has a GOP senator up for re-election. A GOP senator who actually helped Hillary win the state by “vehemently opposing” Donald Trump: Dean Heller.

“Let me make this very, very clear,” Heller said flat out during the election. “I do not support Trump.”

The Republican Party symbol is the elephant. And elephants don’t forget. Neither will Trump supporters. They’ll never forget – or forgive – “DC Dean” for giving aid and comfort to Hillary Clinton when the President needed him most.

And with that in mind, put aside emotions and just look at the numbers…

In his 2012 race against an extremely flawed and scandal-plagued Democrat opponent, Heller only received 46% of the vote — and won by just 11,576 votes out of almost a million cast. More importantly, a conservative third-party candidate in the race received 48,792 votes and “None of the Above” received 45,277 votes.

And that was BEFORE Heller joined the “Never Trump” crowd in 2016 and BEFORE he voted against repealing ObamaCare in 2017.

So it’s not just Democrats who will never vote for him in November’s general election. There’s a growing “Never Heller” army of Trump-supporting Republican voters who won’t vote for him either.

As Sophia Tesfaye of Salon.com reminded readers recently, “More than half of GOP primary voters say they’ll vote for someone besides Heller,” while Jon Ward and Andrew Romano of Yahoo News add that “Heller is damaged goods among the Nevada GOP base.”

Heller’s “numbers are so low and so unlikely to improve that I don’t see how he can survive,” predicts Nevada political columnist Jon Ralston. “I think he will probably lose in the primary to Danny Tarkanian.”

True.  Because I believe what Nevada Republicans believe…

  • That Obamacare should be repealed
  • That illegal immigrants should not be granted citizenship
  • That liberal “gun safety” bills are just a sneaky, back-door path to gun control
  • That abortion-provider Planned Parenthood should not receive taxpayer funding
  • That a good education and true school choice are critical to success in America
  • That you have to work for success and nobody owes you a living
  • That you have to fight for what you want rather than the government giving it to you
  • That private businesses are the real job creators in America, not the government
  • That you have the right to pursue happiness and are not “entitled” to it
  • That parents should make decisions about their children’s welfare, not bureaucrats
  • That we all should voluntarily help the less fortunate in our community
  • That a man’s word is his bond and if you make a promise, you should keep it
  • That quitting and giving up isn’t the American way

Now, if your overall objective in November is to keep Nevada’s U.S. Senate seat in Republican hands, the only chance we have is if Dean Heller is not our party’s nominee.  He just can’t win.  I can.  Here’s why…

I ran against Jackie Rosen, Harry Reid’s hand-picked Democrat candidate for this race, in 2016. And despite Dean Heller helping Hillary carry the state — and without the support of Heller, Gov. Brian Sandoval, and the rest of the GOP “establishment” in Nevada — I came up short by just 3,943 votes out of 310,963 cast. Just one percent. In a Democrat-majority district.

This time around, if we win the Republican primary – as I’ve done four out of the five times in the past – I’ll have something I’ve never had before in the general: The full support of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the rest of the GOP “establishment,” as well as the President of the United States.

Unlike Dean, I can beat Jackie Rosen in November. And will. But first I have to win the primary by making sure Nevada Republican voters see through Sen. Heller’s new-found, politically expedient support for our President — which will expire the minute the primary is over.

At which point he’ll start throwing the president under the bus again.

No matter what he’s saying today, Dean Heller can’t be counted on to support the president or his “Make America Great Again” agenda once the primary is over. The President can’t trust him. Nevadans can’t trust him. Republicans can’t trust him. Conservatives can’t trust him.

And Republicans can’t hold this seat in November if he’s our nominee.

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