Dean Heller is 2018’s Most Endangered Senator

July 6, 2017
TO: Interested Parties
FR: Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
RE: Dean Heller is 2018’s Most Endangered Senator

With the announcement of a top-flight challenger, the writing is on the wall:  Senator Dean Heller is 2018’s most endangered Senator.  His 100% voting record with President Trump during his first 100 days in office, poor approval ratings in public polling, and his record of looking out for himself in the Senate at the expense of hardworking Nevadans represent a three-pronged threat to the incumbent that he will struggle to contain.

1.The Polling: Senator Heller is underwater and unpopular with voters of every political persuasion.

Senator Heller has consistently shown an underwater favorability rating in publicly available polling.

In each of these cases, Heller was less net favorable than President Trump, who was also underwater and is unlikely to be an asset in the campaign.

2. On Healthcare: Heller in a “no-win situation” with a record of spiking costs and slashing coverage for the middle class.  

Sen. Heller’s legislative actions in the Senate contribute to his vulnerability, as well.  He has voted repeatedly to kick 200,000 Nevadans off Medicaid, deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, and bring back lifetime caps.

Sen. Heller has put himself in a “no-win” “bind” — he’s enraged Republican base voters (a group he already faced a substantial weaknesses with), while his record, combined with his party’s toxic healthcare agenda, is turning off moderate and independent voters who decide elections in Nevada.

Sen. Heller’s positioning on this issue has also highlighted one of his greatest weaknesses: he’ll take a different position when facing different rooms and say anything to help himself — leading the dean of the Nevada press corps Jon Ralston to state “he is afflicted with Non-Straight-Answer Disorder.”

  • Ralston:  Why Dean Heller will not be re-elected.  “He told The Hill that he supports a seven-year Medicaid phase-out, then his staff initially refused to confirm it to the Reno Gazette Journal (before they did) and then he told KSNV that he would have chosen the outer end of whatever time frame he was given. Why he could not say – and he still did not Friday — that he opposes a phase-out of any kind is unfathomable. (Ending the federal funding would destroy the state budget.) Politics is no different than life: If you try to please everyone, you please no one.” [Nevada Independent, Jon Ralston, 6/25/17]
  • Heller Has Voted 20 Times To Repeal And Undermine Health Care Reform. [HR 2, Vote 14, 1/19/11; HR 1, Vote 97, 2/18/11; HR 1, Vote 98,2/18/11; HR 1, Vote 99, 2/18/11; HR 1, Vote 100, 2/18/11; HR 1, Vote 110, 2/18/11; HR 1, Vote 121, 2/18/11; HR 1, Vote 138, 2/19/11; HR 1, Vote 141, 2/19/11; HR 1, Vote 147, 2/19/11; HR 1217, Vote 264,4/13/11; HConRes 35, Vote 270, 4/14/11; HR 1213, Vote 285, 5/3/11; HR 1214, Vote 290, 5/4/11; S.Amdt. 30 to S.Amdt. 26 to H.R. 933, Vote 34, 3/13/13; S.Amdt.202 to S.Con.Res.8, Vote 51, 3/22/13; S.Amdt. 1114 to H.R. 2, Vote 137, 4/14/15; S.Amdt.2328 to S.Amdt.2327 to S.Amdt.2266 to HR 22, Vote 253, 7/26/15; H.R. 3762, Vote 329, 12/3/15; S.Con.Res. 3, Vote 26, 1/12/17]
  • Headline: Heller indicates support for seven-year rollback of Medicaid expansion. [Reno Gazette-Journal, 6/8/17]
  • Headline: Heller Wants To Defund Planned Parenthood. [Las Vegas Review Journal, 7/29/15]
  • 2015: Heller Voted To Cut Medicaid By $1.3 Trillion. In May 2015, Heller voted for: “Adoption of the conference report on the concurrent resolution that would reduce spending by $5.3 trillion over the next 10 years, including $2 trillion in reductions from repeal of the 2010 health care overhaul. The concurrent resolution would reduce spending in the areas of Medicare, Medicaid and other mandatory programs.” The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculated the ten-year cuts to Medicaid under the budget agreement: “The budget agreement would also deeply cut the rest of Medicaid.  While it doesn’t clearly say by how much, the cut appears to be roughly $500 billion (or about 13 percent) over ten years.  (The total Medicaid cut, including repeal of the Medicaid expansion, would be about $1.35 trillion, relative to current law, over that period.)” [CQ, 5/5/15; S.Con.Res. 11, Vote 171, 5/5/15; Center On Budget And Policy Priorities, 5/1/15]

3. Heller’s record: pushing the agenda of the rich and the powerful, while Nevada’s working families pay the price.

After 27 years in office, Dean Heller has become a reliable vote for corporate special interests.  Heller has taken millions from Washington lobbyists, Wall Street bankers, big oil and gas, and insurance companies. In turn, he’s voted to protect tax loopholes for corporations that send jobs overseas, to protect tax breaks for big oil, and voted to eliminate rules that stop Wall Street from crashing our economy again.

See for yourself:

  • Pahrump Valley Times: Heller Is Funded By Special Interests “With Seven Out Of Every Ten Dollars He Receives Coming From Out Of State.” “So Sen. Heller is a populist. He is funded by ATT, NV Energy, the American Bankers Association, the kind of entities populism was created to control. Heller is funded by the oil and gas, insurance, securities and investment, mining, real estate and health care industries, with seven out of every ten dollars he receives coming from out of state.” [Pahrump Valley Times, 3/6/13]
  • 2011-2016: Lobbyists Were A Top 10 Campaign Contributor For Heller, Giving $333,759. [OpenSecrets, 5/16/17]
  • 2011-2016: Securities & Investments Were Heller’s Top Campaign Contributor, Giving $606,465. [OpenSecrets, 5/16/17]
  • 2011-2016: Leadership PACs Were A Top 5 Campaign Contributor For Heller, Giving $491,092. [OpenSecrets, 5/16/17]
  • 2014: Heller Voted Against The Bring Jobs Home Act, Which Would End Tax Breaks For Outsourcing And Incentivize Companies To Bring Overseas Jobs Back To The U.S. In July 2014, Heller voted against a: “Motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on the bill that would give businesses a tax credit for up to 20 percent of the expenses incurred to bring work done in foreign countries back into the United States, if the business also increases its number of full-time employees. It also would prohibit tax deductions for expenses incurred when moving jobs outside the U.S.” The motion failed 54-42. [CQ, 7/30/14, S. 2569, Vote 249, 7/30/14]
  • 2011: Heller Voted Against A Bill That Would Have Closed $21 Billion In Tax Loopholes For Five Biggest Oil Companies. On May 17, 2011, Heller voted against: “a Reid, D-Nev., motion to proceed to consideration of the bill that would repeal various tax provisions for oil companies that have gross annual receipts of more than $1 billion and that produce an average 500,000 barrels or more each day.” The motion was rejected 52-48. [CQ, 5/17/11; S. 940, Vote 72, 5/17/11]
  • 2012: Heller Voted Against Closing $24 Billion In Tax Loopholes For Large Oil And Gas Companies.  On March 29, 2012, Heller voted against: “a motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on the bill that would roll back certain tax preferences for large oil and gas companies. The bill would use revenue generated from eliminating certain oil and gas tax incentives to pay for an extension of some renewable-energy tax credits and incentives.” The motion was rejected 51-47. [CQ, 3/29/12; S. 2204, Vote 63, 3/29/12]
  • Heller Said He Wanted To Repeal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform. “U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei didn’t mean to have a town hall meeting on Wednesday during a Carson City event, but it quickly turned into one. […] Barely five minutes into the presentation, people booed Heller loudly when he said he wanted to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act, a 2010 banking reform bill.” [Reno Gazette-Journal, 2/22/17]

The bottom line:  Dean Heller is 2018’s most endangered senator. He’s disliked by voters of every political persuasion, has a record of pushing the interests of the rich and the powerful at the expense of hardworking Nevadans, and has proved he’s the kind of politician who can’t be trusted to do anything but look out for himself. His health care agenda is toxic and will be front and center throughout the race. In short, Heller represents everything that voters don’t like about politics – now that he’s facing a serious opponent, he is facing the greatest challenge of his political career.


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