It is clear that Sen. Dean Heller (R) is the most vulnerable Republican seeking re-election in 2018. When first elected to his federal statewide post back in 2012, he did so with only a 46% win factor, taking advantage of relatively strong independent candidates being in the race.
With Hillary Clinton carrying Nevada last November, the Democrats retaining former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s open seat, and then converting two Republican US House districts, in addition with capturing both houses of the state legislature, it was thought that potential Heller Senate challengers would already be lining up. Such, however, has yet to prove true. At this point, Sen. Heller still has not drawn an official opponent.
Late last week, Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) confirmed that she is considering entering the Senate race next year. This might not be so bad for Sen. Heller, since Ms. Titus’ statewide record is not impressive.
While a state Senator, Titus won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2006, a strong Democratic year as we remember, and though she was opposing a candidate who attracted negative publicity in the campaign’s last week that involved a Las Vegas show girl, Ms. Titus still lost the general election by four percentage points. She would return in 2008 to unseat then-Rep. Jon Porter (R-Henderson) in the marginal 3rd District, but lost it two years later to former state Sen. Joe Heck (R). In 2012, Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) left the safe Democratic Las Vegas House district to run for the Senate, allowing Titus to return to the House.
We can expect Nevada to provide us yet another hard fought political contest in 2018, but so far Sen. Heller, after a brief flirtation with running for Governor, is off to a strong start.
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