Dean Heller's Vote And What It Means


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President Trump speaks alongside Republican Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada (left) and Tim Scott of South Carolina during a meeting with lawmakers to discuss the health care bill.

Senator Dean Heller is taking his lumps.

Heller has gone back and forth on the issue of health care --for years, saying he'd like to repeal the Affordable Care Act, then saying he doesn't want to repeal it and hanging around Gov. Brian Sandoval, who is very much against a repeal.

But last week, he voted with Republicans on a "skinny" repeal, which would have eliminated some of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

All of it has led to questions about how he is going to play out the rest of his term before the 2018 election.

Jon Ralston, founder and editor of The Nevada Independent, joined State of Nevada to talk about Heller's curious vote and more.

Discussion Highlights:

On Sen. Dean Heller’s vote on the “skinny” repeal of the Affordable Care Act:

Heller is the only senator that I know of who put out a statement not saying that he was voting for a bad bill to get it to a conference, but that he was voting for it because he thought it was going to do some good things. And that’s going to cause him even more problems later on.

If you were going to write a guidebook on how not to handle an issue, Dean Heller has got one for you. He could be a best-selling author: ‘Don’t do this.’

Support comes from

His lack of clarity. His reputation in Washington now for avoiding the media and not explaining his position. He may have thought, look, there’s no upside for me in it. But on the otherhand, he has managed to do the impossible. He has infuriated people on the right by not voting for the full repeal or even the partial repeal that came before the ‘skinny’ repeal… but the left, which was not going to be thrilled with him anyway, is absolutely apoplectic about him at the end voting yes… remember he cast the initial vote to proceed to debate. If he had voted no, none of this would have ever happened.

So, there are all kinds of votes for both sides to use against him. That’s his problem.

The November election is like 465 days away. So, he has time, to use the vernacular in politics, to get well but this is going to resonate to some extent next year.

On Dina Titus running for Senate:

I would bet that she is not going to run. I think she could beat Jacky Rosen in a primary. Some people say it’s a guarantee that she would beat Jacky Rosen. I don’t buy that. A lot of different things can happen and she’d have a chance against Dean Heller in the general election.

Dina Titus would have to decide that she wants to risk a safe House seat, a place where she’s gaining more seniority, a place where there’s more chance that the Democrats will be in control than in the Senate for an up-or-out move.

On State Sen. Patricia Farley:

I think Patty Farley, who I like a lot personal, has a real problem getting re-elected in that district if she’s going to run as an independent. It is very difficult for her to be a Republican getting elected there and then to run in a district that could go either way. The Republicans are all going to be very, very mad at her for not caucusing with the party she was elected to. And while Democrats trust her and she was a reliable caucus member for them, she’s an independent. They wanted her to switch. They kept thinking she would switch. If she switches now, she’s going to look like she’s only doing it to get the Democratic support in the election.

I think the Democrats could easily recruit someone to run in that district who is the reliable Democrat. I’m not 100 certain that Patty Farley is going to run for re-election. I’m not sure she likes it as much as some. I think she likes being in the hurly-burly of politics but she has two very young kids who are obviously very, very important to her.

On Steve Sisolak criticism of UNLV hiring a lawyer to get involved with stadium talks:

I think Steve Sisolak is going to have problems as a candidate running as a Clark County commissioner much more than anything else. He’ll have problems up north because he’s such an advocate for the stadium, which is absolutely hated outside of Clark County. Steve Sisolak is the biggest booster of the Raiders stadium.

The whole UNLV thing on the stadium has always made me either chuckle or want to cry for them because they’ve been such patsies in this whole thing. They’ve been used I think to make this seem like a “community project.” At every turn, they have gotten screwed by the people who are proposing this… so I don’t blame UNLV for protecting their interests in this at all. This stadium is not being built for UNLV. UNLV is an afterthought. It’s being built for the Oakland, soon to be Las Vegas, Raiders.

On Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison:

Mark Hutchison is one of the most likable guys in politics. One of the hardest working guys you’ll ever meet in politics and he’s a very smart guy too. I think this is just a question for Hutchison of all the timing being off. I think he would have loved to run for attorney general in 2014 but he saw that Ross Miller couldn’t be beaten – oops.

And he wanted to run for governor, that’s why he ran for lieutenant governor… but he’s been closed out just as Dean Heller has… by Adam Laxalt who is the new conservative darling of the state and has made all the right moves.

I think his business – he’s got a burgeoning law firm – as suffered. There is nowhere for him to go. So, he’s decided, ‘listen, I’m going to get out and make money for my family again.’


Jon Ralston, founder/editor, The Nevada Independent

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