Berkley to Rosen: Don’t underestimate GOP’s Heller in Senate race


L.E. Baskow

Shelley Berkley speaks during the Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum luncheon to honor the 28 student representatives selected at the 2017 Las Vegas Sun Youth Forum at the Las Vegas Country Club on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017.

Sat, Mar 10, 2018 (2 a.m.)

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

Jacky Rosen

Jacky Rosen

Former U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley has some advice for Rep. Jacky Rosen, a fellow Democrat, as Rosen looks ahead to a potential U.S. Senate election battle against incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada.

Speaking on Nevada Newsmakers recently, Berkley told Rosen not to let others run her campaign or underestimate Heller.

Both Rosen and Heller face primary challengers.

“I lost my election,” Berkley said. “I listened to bad advice. I wasn’t myself during the campaign. I was very scripted and I’m not a scripted person and it didn’t work. It was obvious from the start, and I could never correct it.”

She said Rosen may have a tendency to underestimate Heller.

“I would tell her and I have: Do not take Dean Heller for granted,” Berkley said. “I have know Dean for 30 years and I was never overly impressed with him...But obviously, the people in the state of Nevada did see something.”

Berkley allowed national Democratic media experts to run her U.S. Senate campaign in 2012. Her usual outgoing and glib style was muffled by her campaign, and she ended up losing to Heller by a razor’s edge of 1.2 percentage points.

The loss ended her political career, which included stops in Congress, the Nevada Legislature and the Nevada university system’s Board of Regents.

“The reality is he (Heller) is unoffensive and people, you know, will vote for somebody who is unoffensive,” Berkley said.

“Get the advice from everybody. But in the end, it is your election. It’s your name on the ballot, and you got to do what works for you. Frankly, so far, I’ve seen her do exactly that,” Berkley said.

Berkley also said that Heller will have to watch out for Danny Tarkanian, son of former UNLV basketball Coach Jerry Tarkanian, in the Republican primary. “He appeals to a certain segment of the Republican voting population, especially in a primary,” she said.

Tarkanian has received support from ousted White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, which could now hurt him in the primary, Berkley said. “Frankly, I thought Danny had a better chance before Steve Bannon faded into the sunset,” she said.

Berkley said it could be a double-edged sword, however, if President Donald Trump steps in to campaign for Heller.

“Dean changed some of his positions in order to accommodate Donald Trump,” Berkley said. “Now in a general election, that is going to hurt him. In a primary, probably not.”

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