Sen. Dean Heller Won’t Commit to Backing McConnell

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (C) -- shown with fellow Republican Senators Orrin Hatch (L) and John Cornyn (R) -- says he has the votes to pass the tax plan
AFP

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) was noncommittal when asked if he would continue to support Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as majority leader on Nevada’s Kevin Wall radio show Thursday.

Heller, according to Nevada Independent reporter Riley Snyder, responded to host Wall’s question about McConnell by saying he would “always vote for leadership that’s best for Nevada”

The response was less than the more typical endorsement one would expect of a leader who, since he took the reins of the Senate Republicans in 2007, has proved politically unassailable from within his own party. McConnell has recently come under increasing fire from conservatives and “tea party” groups that see him as insufficiently aligned to their principles. McConnell, in return, has been critical of the Tea Party and other challenges to the Republican establishment from the right for years.

The pro-amnesty Heller, however, seems on the surface to be an unlikely source of criticism for McConnell. Heller is facing his own primary challenge from the right in 2018, in the form of Danny Tarkanian, whom Sarah Palin called an “America First outsider.”

Tarkanian himself has slammed McConnell in more harsh terms than Heller did Thursday, and the incumbent’s comment might be read as an attempt to establish his anti-establishment bone fides ahead of an election cycle in which opposition to McConnell has emerged as a badge of distinction among challengers running against the “beltway swamp.”

Regardless, Heller pulled no punches as he attacked Tarkanian, calling him “a phony” and “a fake” before comparing him to failed candidates Roy Moore and Sharon Angle:

Heller also reiterated his firm support for amnesty for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of so-called “Dreamer” illegal aliens:

Heller was, however, confident he would not have to cave to Democrats on amnesty just yet, saying a temporary spending bill would likely pass without shutting down the government:

The ostensible purpose of the interview was to discuss the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which Heller praised.

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