HELLER CASTS DECIDING VOTE ON HEALTH CARE. Senator Dean Heller cast the deciding vote to advance a plan that will force Nevadans to pay more for less care – just weeks after a showy press conference where he pledged to do the opposite and mere days since an embarrassing exchange at the White House. In the end, Heller stood by a President (who lost his state) instead of his constituents. Voters had no reason to trust him then and his latest vote has demonstrated, yet again, that they cannot count on Senator Heller to do what’s right. Heller continues to earn his reputation as a Senator suffering from “Non-Straight-Answer Disorder” and “Re-Election Fear Syndrome.”

Nevada Independent: Heller casts crucial vote, allowing Senate to begin debate on Obamacare repeal.
“[Heller] has repeatedly avoided taking a position on the other proposals that have been brought to the table since then. His spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry Tuesday on why Heller supports a motion to proceed now but opposed it earlier.”

“For weeks, Heller had found himself in the middle of a game of tug-of-war with Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who staunchly opposes any legislation that would cut Nevada’s Medicaid program, and Republican leadership and President Donald Trump who are promoting it.”

Jon Ralston: “I remain convinced that Heller has dug his own grave”
“[Heller’s] problem is that he has voted so many different ways in the past and that he said, without explanation, he would vote against debate just a few weeks ago. And that’s not all: Nevada’s senior senator is not just affirming an opaque process by voting to move forward – even though he will oppose a straight repeal – but he will be seen by some as having caved (“Look, he wants to remain a U.S. senator, doesn’t he?”) or flipped (choose your verb) because of how he has handled this.”

“I remain convinced that Heller has dug his own grave on this issue by either not being clear or not saying anything until Tuesday.”

LA Times: Sen. Dean Heller votes to debate Obamacare repeal bill, and Nevadans give him an earful
“His statement attached to his tweet about why he chose to “vote to move forward and give us the chance to address the unworkable aspects of Obamacare” generated more than 5,300 replies within three hours of posting it…But the vast majority of replies expressed anger, or eagerness to donate to his opponent.

“In case he needed a reminder, the response to his tweeted statement showed how much anger there is at the attempt to repeal Obamacare in a state that went for Hillary Clinton and has been trending blue for a few years. There were links in the replies for likely challengers for his seat, including Jacky Rosen, a Democratic Nevada congresswoman.”

CNN: ENDANGERED REPUBLICANS STICK WITH TRUMP ON KEY HEALTH CARE VOTE. Eric Bradner zeroes in on two of the most vulnerable incumbents in the country and their decision to stick with a President who has threatened their political careers, instead of the constituents they were elected to serve. Key points:

  • The two Senate Republicans in the most jeopardy of losing their seats in 2018 faced a choice in Tuesday’s health care vote: Stick with President Donald Trump and face a barrage of Democratic attacks, or break ranks and risk a potentially serious primary challenge fueled by Trump himself.
  • Both Nevada Sen. Dean Heller and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake decided to stick with Trump.
  • Their votes came after stern signals from the White House that the President was willing to work to defeat his own party’s incumbents if they crossed him on health care.
  • Trump and White House aides have met and spoken with several potential Flake primary challengers. And Trump, sitting next to Heller at a recent meeting, predicted the Nevada senator would reverse himself and vote to advance the GOP’s health care effort Tuesday.
  • For Heller, in particular, Tuesday’s vote raised questions about why he’d stood with popular Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and said he’d oppose the bill just weeks ago.

#AZSEN FLASHBACK (JUST TWO WEEKS AGO) – Arizona Republic’s EJ Montini: Jeff Flake trades sick people for votes. “I didn’t figure him to be a politician willing to trade sick people for votes. I was wrong.”

DSCC LAUNCHES “PREEMPTIVE STRIKE.” Hours before the health care vote, McClatchy reported the DSCC launched two new digital radio ads on Senators Heller and Flake for voting 20 times to dismantle health care. The ads, which can be heard on Pandora Radio, will reach tens of thousands of targeted voters in Nevada and Arizona who comprise key elements of the midterm electorate, including persuadable voters, seniors, and women. This is the first time the DSCC has utilized Pandora’s Radio ad feature this cycle.

Listen to the ad on Senator Heller: “CAREER.” 

Listen to the ad on Senator Flake: “WASHINGTON STORY.”

McClatchyDems target two GOP senators ahead of health vote
Politico: DSCC launches Nevada, Arizona Pandora ads ahead of health votes
The Hill: Dem campaign arm slams Heller, Flake on healthcare votes
CNN: Endangered Republicans stick with Trump on key health care vote
Roll Call: Democrats Zero In on Heller as Senate Starts Health Care Votes 

“NEXT FEW DAYS WILL BE HELL FOR REPUBLICANS.” CNN has a look at the “painful process” driving the Republican effort to drive up health care costs. Warning: if they think voting is bad, wait until they have to defend this plan.

“The mood appeared to be a mix of unease and exasperation following the political infighting and secretive negotiations of the past few months — mixed with anxiety about the tumultuous and unpredictable few days that now lie ahead…

‘We’re getting nothing done, my friends. We’re getting nothing done,’ McCain said. ‘I don’t think any of us feels very proud of our incapacity. Merely preventing your political opponents from doing what they want isn’t the most inspiring work.’

A senior Democratic aide told CNN that Democrats are prepared to be “extremely aggressive” in showering the Senate floor with health care amendments throughout that process. It will be a “full on” and “no holds barred” blitz with dozens if not hundreds of amendments potentially being offered, the aide said.

Democrats will want to inflict as much pain as possible on Republicans, and force them to take as many damaging political votes as they can.

The vote-a-rama will be especially trying for senators who face competitive re-elections in 2018. Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada both voted to advance the health care bill Tuesday, and the next few days could give their opponents endless fodder for attack ads against them.” 

REMINDER: EVERY POTENTIAL OR DECLARED GOP SENATE CANDIDATE OWNS THIS PLAN. It’s not just Heller and Flake who are tied to this vote – any Senate candidate running with the GOP will need to answer for it. The DSCC reminded voters in IndianaPennsylvaniaWest VirginiaNorth DakotaOhioWisconsinMichigan and Florida that the Republicans running or weighing a Senate bid supported this bill that would drive up their states’ health care costs.

MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL: REPUBLICANS CONSIDERING SENATE RUN BACK TUESDAY’S VOTE. Here’s a roundup of where the potential Republican field stands:

  • “[Eric Hovde] said he would ‘absolutely, 100%’ vote to launch debate on repealing Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act.”
  • “‘Republicans have been promising for seven years to repeal Obamacare, and it’s time they deliver on that promise,’ Nicholson said in his statement.”
  • “In an appearance last month on WISN-TV’s ‘Upfront with Mike Gousha,’ Vukmir called an initial health care proposal by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a ‘great starting point.’” 

It’s *almost* Friday,

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