Democratic congresswoman Jacky Rosen and incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller won their respective party nominations, setting the stage for a pivotal Senate election in Nevada.
As expected, Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, who currently represents Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, captured her party’s nomination on Tuesday night, beating back a slate of different Democratic candidates. In another unsurprising outcome, Republican Sen. Dean Heller also won his party’s primary contest.
The conclusion of the Nevada primary brings focus to an election that could bear major consequences for which party controls the Senate next year. In an election map that looks very favorable for the GOP, Nevada is unique in that it’s one state where the National Republican Senatorial Committee will be playing defense. Some have predicted the contest could become the costliest Senate election in history.
The state voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and was captured by Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Republicans enjoyed brief control of the state legislature, but this majority was also lost amid the last presidential election. National Democrats are hoping to keep the momentum going.
Rosen is quite new to the political game. Besides the House seat she currently occupies — which she won for the first time less than two years ago — Rosen has never held elected office before. However, she was elected president of her local synagogue, the biggest Jewish temple in Nevada, in 2013. (RELATED: South Carolina Governor McMaster Faces GOP Primary Runoff)
While Heller won’t be campaigning in the friendliest of territories for Republicans, he has shown a propensity for survival. He was the only Republican senator in 2012 to survive in a battleground state, winning by just over one percentage point. While Rosen is relatively unknown statewide, Heller has attained strong name recognition over the years. Prior to obtaining his Senate seat, Heller served two terms as a U.S. representative and served three terms as Nevada’s Secretary of State.
The Republican senator was given a major blessing in March when President Donald Trump successfully encouraged Danny Tarkanian — a conservative primary challenger — to drop out of the Senate contest and instead run for election in the state’s 3rd Congressional District. The move prevented a bruising primary fight, leaving Heller more prepared for the general election.
If Democrats are unable to defeat Heller, it is likely they will retain their minority status in the upper chamber of Congress for at least another two years. Both Inside Elections and Cook Political Report, two different election analysis websites, rank the Nevada Senate race as a toss up.
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