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Congressional District 4 - Ruben Kihuen - Democratic

Name: Ruben Kihuen

Office: Congressional District 4

Party Affiliation: Democratic


Ruben Kihuen is running for Congressional District 4. 

He has served in the Nevada Legislature for ten years. First as a member of the Assembly and for the last six years as a state senator.

Kihuen immigrated to the United States with his family when he was 8. He told KNPR's State of Nevada that his family came here to achieve the American Dream, which they did.

He said he is in public service to give back to the country that has given him so much, and he wants to make sure future generations get the same opportunities has he did. 

Support comes from

As far as experience for the job, Kihuen said he knows what it is like to live in a low-income family, get paid minimum wage and struggle to pay for college. 

He also said he believes his years in the Nevada Legislature has helped him understand the problems facing Nevadans and how to find compromise solutions across party lines.

He said Washington needs people who are willing to reach across the aisle and talk to the other side to get things done. He believes there are a lot of issues where both sides can find common ground and common answers.

Biography provided by the candidate:

I am the proud son of immigrants, a housekeeper and former farm worker. For the past decade, I've been fighting for working families in the Nevada legislature.

Question: What is your plan to work across the aisle to prevent partisan gridlock?

As your next Congressman, I will always look to find common ground so that I can get results for Nevada families. Washington isn’t working for us because too many politicians – including Tea Party Congressman Cresent Hardy – are catering to special interests and extreme ideologies instead of delivering for the people we’re elected to represent.

In the State Senate, I was proud to work closely with Republican Assistant Majority Leader Ben Kieckhefer to introduce and pass the state’s first need-based college scholarship program. The Silver State Opportunity Grant Program empowers low-income students to enroll in Nevada community colleges and universities, and I was thrilled that it was named the best bipartisan piece of legislation in Nevada.

On a broader level, I was encouraged to see both parties come together with Governor Sandoval to increase K-12 education funding and pass the state’s largest investment for our schools in the last legislative session. I was honored to be part of that effort, and I know we need more of that kind of cooperation in Washington.

Question: What is the ONE Nevada issue you plan to bring to the national dialogue?

My family immigrated to this country from Mexico, and we are only here today because of President Ronald Reagan's immigration reform of 1986. President Reagan understood that when you give hardworking immigrants a chance, they contribute to our economy and strengthen our communities.

But Donald Trump and Congressman Hardy don’t understand that. They way Trump talks about immigrants and Latinos in this country is ugly and dehumanizing. Instead of condemning him, Congressman Hardy has said he isn’t bothered by Trump’s tone and that he’s “satisfied” with Trump’s outreach to Latinos. Which is not all that surprising, since Congressman Hardy has a history of hostility towards immigrants: he’s opposed to bipartisan immigration reform with a path to full and equal citizenship, and he’s against President Obama’s executive actions to keep immigrant families together. I couldn’t disagree more.

Nevada has the highest share of undocumented immigrants in the country. Republicans who continue to perpetuate a broken immigration system are forcing families to live in fear and holding back our economic potential. In Congress, I will make it a priority to finally pass comprehensive immigration reform with a full and equal path to citizenship. In the meantime, I will work to protect the President’s authority to provide deportation relief to law-abiding immigrants and stand up to Republicans who denigrate the Latino community.

Question: Rooftop solar vs. the state’s power utility – and potentially breaking up the energy monopoly in Nevada – is shaping up to be one of this year’s greatest battles in the state. Should Nevada break up NV Energy’s regulated monopoly?

Nevada has led the way in developing solar energy, and for good reason. We have an abundance of solar potential in our state. Investing in renewable energy sources like solar power doesn’t just protect our environment and our climate, it also grows our economy and creates new good-paying jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.

I’m proud that during my time in the State Assembly and Senate, we’ve strengthened Nevada’s renewable energy standard, ensuring that a quarter of our total electricity needs are met by renewables by 2025. As a result of this legislation, thousands of jobs have been created in Nevada building this energy infrastructure and installing rooftop solar panels. We need to find a solution that is more flexible for consumers while ensuring our state continues to have access a secure and reliable energy grid.

Question: Do you support ANY form of background check for gun sales?

This issue is simple for me: while we can’t prevent every tragedy, we have a responsibility to do something about the epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings in this country. I will always support commonsense gun safety laws like universal background checks to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, like suspected terrorists, dangerous criminals, domestic abusers, and the violently mentally ill.

In the 2013 legislative session, I was a co-sponsor and advocate for the bill to enact background checks in Nevada. This past December, I called on Nevada legislators to hold a special session to ban firearms sales to people on the federal no-fly list. I am a strong supporter of Question 1 on the ballot.

My opponent could not be more extreme on this issue. First in the legislature and now in Congress, Cresent Hardy has voted again and again to stop background checks on gun purchases. He has repeatedly voted to block legislation that would prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns. Hardy has even flat-out said that children with a "severe mental illness" should have guns. These views are dangerous and out of touch with our district.

(Editor's note: The candidate's biography and answers were not edited for content or length)

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