Rosen says protecting pre-existing conditions her top priority in Senate; wants 'empathy' for migrant caravan

Jacky Rosen says her first priority upon being sworn in to the U.S. Senate next year will be to protect insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, while promising to work with Senate Republicans and President Donald Trump on infrastructure and cybersecurity issues.

Congresswoman and Senator-elect Jacky Rosen speaks with media at the Nevada State Democratic Party headquarters in Las Vegas on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

Fighting through a post-election cold, Rosen also told reporters during a Friday press conference that she wasn’t sure Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general after the resignation of Jeff Sessions was constitutionally valid, but that Whitaker should recuse himself from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“We need to let that move forward in the way that comes to its logical conclusion,” she said of Mueller’s investigation. “And the president has to think about who he is as Uniter in Chief. He’s not constantly on the campaign trail; he has a real job to do.”

“We do not want to go into a constitutional crisis,” she added. “This is bigger than any one president.”

But Rosen, who may end up being the lone freshman Democrat in the Senate depending on still-pending results in Arizona and Florida, said she had already identified issues that she hoped to work on with Republican senators and the president in the upcoming Congress, namely infrastructure improvements, career and technical education issues and enhanced cybersecurity. But she said her foremost priority — echoed countless times on the campaign trail and in ads — would be to further enshrine the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that insurers don’t discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.

“Every single person I’ve talked to in the state of Nevada, whether they’re a Democrat, Republican, young or old, anyplace in between no matter where they come from or what religion they are, is panicked about not being able to get insurance for their pre-existing condition,” she said.

Congresswoman and Senator-elect Jacky Rosen speaks with media at the Nevada State Democratic Party headquarters in Las Vegas on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

Rosen’s five-point defeat of incumbent Sen. Dean Heller on Tuesday kicked off a good night for Democrats in Nevada, who held two swingy House seats and won five of six statewide constitutional offices, including governor and attorney general. She said Heller was gracious in his concession call and promised to help with her transition to his office to avoid any lapse in constituent services. She also said former Sen. Harry Reid, still recovering from pancreatic cancer surgery, sent her a congratulatory text message the day after the election.

But Rosen — a relative political newcomer who emerged from political obscurity to win the state’s 3rd Congressional District in 2016 and Senate seat in 2018 — tried to dispel any notion that Nevada’s political tides had shifted permanently in favor of Democrats.

“I think Nevada is an independent state,” she said. “I think that we sure are purple, but I do think that people look to the personalities of who they’re going to elect. We’re still a small state, less than 3 million people, so you do have a good chance to go around and sit in the coffee shops and meet lots of people everywhere you go.”

Rosen also said she wants Trump to tone down his incendiary rhetoric and work with members of both parties more frequently and to stop making large-scale policy changes through executive order.

“I think the president of the United States is a position that is respected around the world, and  he needs to respect it and he needs to treat it with dignity and stop the politics of divisiveness and bring us together in ways that we can look forward and things we certainly agree on right away,” she said. “Things like infrastructure, things like career and technical education, we have to do something about immigration, but trying to do that through executive order isn't’ the way to do that. Help us find a legislative solution.”

She also said she has no current plans to sign on to bills creating a “Medicare for all” or single-payer health insurance system, championed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and other progressive members of the party. Rosen said she supports a Medicaid-buy in and public option for health insurance marketplaces, and wants to pass legislation reining in prescription drug prices, but wants any changes to the nation’s healthcare system to be done slowly.

“When you make a sweeping change, you can’t wait to see what falls through the cracks, because what could move through the cracks is somebody’s life,” she said. “So you need to move thoughtfully, carefully, with a plan incrementally.”

Congresswoman and Senator-elect Jacky Rosen points to where her Senate pin will soon be while speaking with media at the Nevada State Democratic Party headquarters in Las Vegas on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

Rosen also said she wants to reintroduce her House legislation that would prohibit the Department of Energy from moving forward with funding for the long-stalled nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain before the Office of Management and Budget studied the economic impact of alternative for the site. But she acknowledged the state’s best chances of blocking movement on the facility was the new Democratic majority in the House, and the removal of pro-Yucca forces such as Illinois Republican Rep. John Shimkus from committee leadership.

Rosen was also asked about the group of thousands of migrants from Honduras and Guatemala traveling to the U.S. border to seek asylum — a topic that Trump and other Republicans seized on before the midterm elections as proof of a need for more border security. She said the country should show them empathy.

“There’s about 5,000 people there — we’re a country of over 300 million people,” she said. “I think what we need to do, as I’ve seen pictures of people who are coming in this caravan, as the president calls it, they’re women, they’re children, they’re babies. I think we should have compassion. I think we should be able to deal with them as asylum seekers and really find next steps forward. Because if you look at the people who have traveled thousands of miles, they’re coming because they’re fleeing something that is so awful for their families that they’re willing to carry their baby on their back for a thousand miles. That says something about why they’re coming. I think we need to have some empathy.”

Tight races, high nerves as candidates vie for votes ahead of crucial midterm election

Republican candidate for governor Attorney General Adam Laxalt speaks during a get out the vote event at the Laxalt field office in Las Vegas on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

On the eve of the election, a lineup of Republican candidates had crowded into a Las Vegas campaign office to fire up staff and volunteers as TV cameras rolled.

Their chants of “Adam! Adam!” and predictions that they’d be turning Nevada red on Tuesday came as early voting returns show about 22,000 more Democrats than Republicans statewide have cast ballots early. That’s a 3.5 percentage point lead for Democrats — a notable gap that Republicans hope they can close with their traditionally strong Election Day turnout and with a ground game that’s more refined than in years past.

“We're in the bottom of the ninth, we're down one, there's a runner on third base. We need to hit a home run,” said Republican attorney general candidate Wes Duncan, before urging attendees to tell everyone they know to get out and vote.

Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who’s running for governor, also projected confidence, saying he thinks voters see a clear choice in their candidates for the top statewide post.

“We feel great about this race,” Laxalt said in a speech, before shaking a few hands and avoiding the press by slipping out a back door. “We believe that there are going to be enough Nevadans to put me in the governor's office.”

With polls opening at 7 a.m., voters will have the final say Tuesday on how effective the campaigns were in turning out an unusually engaged electorate for a non-presidential year. At stake is a Senate race that Democrats need to win to have any hope of wresting control of the chamber from Republicans, the closest gubernatorial race in the country and a ballot measure that will determine the future of the state’s energy market.

Campaigns have spent much the last two weeks of October making their final pitches, flying in surrogates from President Donald Trump to former President Barack Obama in an effort to rev up support from their parties’ bases. They’ve also appealed directly to voters by knocking on doors, flooding airwaves, and crowding mailboxes in an attempt to persuade undecided voters — and cast aspersions on their opponents in an attempt to dissuade otherwise decided ones.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak tours the site of the Raiders stadium in Las Vegas on Nov. 5, 2018. Photo courtesy Sisolak campaign.

Amid a packed day of events ranging from pizza with community college students to a lunch with union workers at a hospital, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak started Monday at a place closely associated with him — the 62-acre construction site that will soon host the $1.9 billion domed stadium on the Las Vegas Strip.

Dressed in a reflective vest and steel-toed boots after touring the site, Sisolak largely pivoted away from questions about President Donald Trump’s effect on the race and whether he felt confident about his chances after the first two weeks of early voting, acknowledging only that it remained “tight.” Flanked by a posse of union members, the Democrat jumped at a chance to extol the help his campaign has received from organized labor and the benefits of large-scale construction projects.

“You’re looking at between these two sites, here and the (Las Vegas) Convention Center where we’re going, it’s 30,000 construction jobs,” he said. “That’s putting a lot of people to work. Those aren’t numbers. It’s important to understand those are families, there’s a family and a person behind every one of those numbers.”

Clark County Democratic Party Chair Donna West speaks with police officers about a suspicious package found during a canvass launch event in front of her home in Las Vegas on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. The package was later found to contain campaign literature. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Jacky Rosen spent the lunch hour talking to supporters at the home of Clark County Democratic Party Chair Donna West, whose garage has been a home base for canvassers. Rosen’s campaign, on guard in the tense political climate, called for police after finding a suspicious package outside West’s home.

Police carefully opened the cardboard box. To the relief of those gathered, the only thing inside was campaign literature.

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Dean Heller’s Twitter account showed he was doing interviews with Reno media outlets, visiting Northern Nevada campaign offices and making calls to supporters on Monday to get out the vote in his closely watched race.

In Henderson, a trio of men wearing cowboy hats were seen walking on a sidewalk Monday evening carrying a large sign for nonpartisan candidate Ryan Bundy, along with Nevada and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags. On the opposite side of the busy street was a megaphone-wielding man carrying a sign for Laxalt, whose campaign is seen as the one with most to lose to the conservative Bundy.

Foot soldiers

Behind the candidates are small armies of dedicated, if tired, staff and volunteers.

Off a busy street in Reno on Friday afternoon, Amanda Flocchini sat at a table in an office cluttered with campaign signs to re-elect Heller. Flocchini, a recent UNR graduate, was four days away from finishing her first campaign, making phone calls and knocking on doors in an attempt to bolster the Republicans’ ground game in Northern Nevada.

What she expected for the next four days: “Probably not a lot of sleep.”

“It’s really about trying to make as much voter contact as possible,” Flocchini said.

On Thursday, a few miles from the Heller basecamp, Pam Jonidis was preparing her campaign materials to go door-knocking just after hearing from Heller’s opponent, Rosen, who stopped at the Democrats’ Sparks campaign office.

Jonidis described herself as having been an apathetic voter in the past, rarely going out to vote and campaigning once for former President George H. W. Bush in Florida. Jonidis is no longer a Republican, and she said her partisan leanings have shifted even further to the left since 2016.

“This year, the last two years, I’m so disgusted at what I’m seeing happen in my country,” Jonidis said. “Not only President Trump. [It’s] everything that happened in Congress this year.”

The path to victory for statewide candidates is likely to run through Flocchini’s and Jonidis’s backyards — Washoe County. While Democrats work hard to boost turnout in blue Clark County and Republicans appeal to their red base in the rural counties, Washoe is the famously purple swing county that has the potential to make or break campaign on either side of the aisle.

And Democrats bested Republicans in Washoe County during the two week early voting period, securing an 1,800-vote lead. Democrats’ statewide lead is boosted by a 47,000-person lead in Clark County, which was mitigated by a 27,000-person lead for Republicans in the rurals.

Those numbers look more like what they do during a presidential year, which usually sees higher levels of voters turning out than a midterm election. Total turnout in the two-week early voting period was at about 40 percent compared to about 25 percent in the 2014 midterm. And organizers like Flocchini and Jonidis, who have been working on the ground, said it was apparent that voters across the spectrum were paying attention this year.

“We’re really pleased to see [the high turnout],” Deanna Spikula, the Washoe County registrar, said on Monday. “It’s going to be busy out there if we see the same amount of turnout as we did in early voting. We’re glad people are engaged in the process.”

Eric Herzik, who chairs the political science department at UNR, said he thought the surge in engagement was a reaction to the divisiveness of the Trump presidency.

“Democrats really see some of their core constituencies at risk,” he said. “The core Trump Republican Party just wants to confirm his greatness. You’ve got two sides that are entrenched and just talking past each other.”

But the high numbers of turnout this year may also be a byproduct of the effort that the Democratic and Republican parties in Nevada have put into the midterm election this year with so much at stake.

The Republican voter turnout operation has traditionally lagged behind that of Democrats. But the Republican National Committee landed early in Nevada this year — in June 2017 — and has built up a massive voter data operation and volunteer infrastructure that they are hoping will carry them to victory. In August, Republicans hit one million voter contacts in Nevada, more than they had contacted during the entire 2016 cycle.

Democrats, meanwhile, have revved up the so-called Reid machine, named for former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, which has helped propel their party to victory over the last few election cycles including the blue wave of 2016. The Culinary Union, a critical part of the machine, has had 350 guest room attendants, bartenders, bellmen, cooks, and others working up to 12 hours a day canvassing through Election Day and will have knocked more than 385,000 doors and had one-on-one conversations with 84,000 voters across the state.

Though Democrats lead in early voting — including the slim lead in Washoe County that Herzik described as “significant” — it’s not looking like a “blue wave” year just yet. Herzik said that depends on today’s turnout and another increasingly big factor: the independent voter.

In the last decade, the number of active registered nonpartisan voters in Nevada has increased to about 22 percent of the electorate. This year, they have been courted by all sides. Out of the 629,922 voters who cast ballots in early voting, about 21 percent were nonpartisans.

Candidates themselves even seem prepared for a range of possible outcomes as the state’s top races remain in doubt. Duncan quickly listed off a host of issues he could work on with Democrats if Laxalt were to fall short, including mental health treatment, transitional housing and psychiatric ERs.

“You’re going to have to work with whoever is in the governor's office to try and do the best for the state,” he said.

Keeping an eye on the polls

With two tight races for Senate and governor, partisan and federal observers are expected to join voters at the ballot box. On Monday, the Department of Justice announced that it selected Clark County and Washoe County as two of the 35 jurisdictions where the agency would send personnel to monitor local compliance with federal election laws.

Spikula, the Washoe County registrar, called the decision routine, noting that the department sent monitors in 2016. On Monday morning, two of the monitors came to the office to share contact information and introduce themselves to county officials, Spikula said.

“They’ve been here in 2016, and we welcome all of our observers to come, whether they be partisan observers or any other observer that wants to watch the process,” she said.

On Monday, U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson also announced that Allison Reese, an assistant attorney, will handle complaints filed with the Justice Department. Such complaints would cover issues such as voter intimidation and or buying and selling votes. Unlawful behavior can be reported to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division online or at 800-253-3931.

 

Republican super PAC ties Rosen to Pelosi in new ad focused on taxes, immigration

Focus: Democratic Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Jacky Rosen

Who's paying for it: Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Size of buy: $2.3 million on broadcast, cable, radio and digital

When it starts: Oct. 30

Where it's running: Statewide

The gist: This new 30-second ad attempts to tie Rosen to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, saying that supporting the freshman Democrat for Senate would mean “importing Nancy Pelosi’s California liberal agenda” to Nevada.

The ad says that Rosen “followed Pelosi” in voting for “California-style higher taxes on families and small businesses” — pointing to her vote in opposition to the tax reform bill passed last December — and in voting against “tougher penalties for criminal illegals who sneak back into the U.S.,” a reference to her vote in opposition to Kate’s Law. It also repeats the attack that Rosen “skipped a vote helping veterans for a campaign photo op,” referring to her visit to the U.S.-Mexico border amid scrutiny of the Trump Administration’s family separation policy that caused her to miss a vote on a sure-to-pass bill on benefits for veterans suffering from exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

“Ninety percent for Pelosi may work in California but not in Nevada,” the ad says.

Watch the ad below:

Reno boy born with a heart defect featured in new Rosen ad on pre-existing conditions

Focus: U.S. Sen. Dean Heller

Who’s paying for it: Rep. Jacky Rosen’s campaign

Size of buy: The ad is part of the Rosen campaign’s ongoing eight-figure buy

When it starts: Oct. 27

Where it’s running: The Rosen campaign declined to specify which market or markets the ad is running in

The gist: This new 30-second ad features a young boy named Dean from Reno who was born with a heart defect and his parents, Theresa and Briant. Rosen referenced the family during her debate against Heller last week when she asked the Republican senator to look them in the eye and explain why he “broke his promise” on health care and supports “slashing” protections for pre-existing conditions.

In the ad, Theresa and Briant explain that when they learned Dean would be born with a heart defect, it “shifted” their world and that he will live with the condition for the rest of his life. They say that they had a chance to talk with Heller in person and he “promised that he would vote to protect pre-existing conditions,” referring to Heller’s vote in July 2017 to advance a House proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act to debate in the Senate.

“He caved to President Trump and did what he was told,” Briant says.

Watch the ad below:

Pence rallies Republicans in Carson City and Vegas, says 'blue wave' will hit a 'red wall' in Nevada

Cresent Hardy, left, candidate for U.S. Representative for Nevada's 4th congressional district, and Vice President Mike Pence, gives a thumps up during a rally at the Venetian Hotel Casino on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.(Jeff Scheid-Nevada Independent)

Vice President Mike Pence predicted a vaunted “blue wave” of Democratic voters will hit a “red wall” in Nevada at rallies aimed at boosting Sen. Dean Heller, gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Republican congressional candidate Cresent Hardy.

After a rally in Las Vegas on behalf of Hardy earlier on Saturday, Pence spoke to a crowd of about 900 in a jet hangar at the Carson City Airport alongside Heller and Laxalt, both in tight races. The rally Saturday afternoon came after both candidates marched with supporters through Carson City at the Nevada Day parade.

“I keep hearing about this blue wave,” Pence said. “I have a feeling it’s going to hit a red wall right here in Nevada.”

Heller, who is fighting to retain his Senate seat, is running against newcomer first-term Rep. Jacky Rosen. Pence, who served with Heller in the House of Representatives, said that the senator had a track record of putting “Nevada first.”

“I’ve known this guy a long time,” Pence said, starting a long pitch for electing Heller. “We served in the House of Representatives together. And I’ll tell you what, he’s a Nevada original.”

Pence cast Heller as a principled conservative who should remain in the Senate and who would help the Trump administration pursue its agenda. He cited Heller’s support for repealing the individual mandate for the Affordable Care Act, stronger borders, tax cuts and increased defense spending. Heller, who had a rocky relationship with Trump at the start of his presidency, has since embraced him, telling Trump in Elko last week that “everything you touch turns to gold.”

“It’s really a choice between tax cuts and tax hikes. It’s a choice between stronger borders and open borders,” Pence said. “It’s a choice between a stronger military and greater respect in the world and more military cuts. It’s a choice between independence and dependence. It’s a choice between protecting Medicare as we know it or start this Medicare for all business that will just bankrupt the system and result in less coverage for seniors across this country.”

The vice president also directly addressed the migrant caravan of thousands of Hondurans and Guatemalans attempting to seek asylum in the U.S., saying that it is a “challenge to our border, challenged to our sovereignty” repeating Trump’s claim that you don’t have a country without strong borders.

“As President Trump made clear, this is an assault on our country, and we will not allow it,” he said.

Pence had highlighted his Irish immigrant roots in his morning speech for Hardy, although he said in the afternoon speech that his grandfather “stood in line” and came to the country legally. International and domestic law allow people to seek asylum, although they must pass a so-called credible fear interview if they are to remain in the country and pursue their case.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt speaks at a rally with Vice President Mike Pence on Oct. 27, 2018 at the Carson City Airport. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Pence also encouraged voters to elect Laxalt, who is locked in a tight race with Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak. He touted Laxalt’s service in the military and track record in the attorney’s general office, extending legal representation to veterans and challenging Obama-era regulations like the Waters of the United States rule, known as WOTUS.

“It’s incredible all that he has done for the people of Nevada,” Pence said.

As the crowd waited for Pence, who flew into Reno on Air Force Two, Laxalt opened his remarks by claiming Sisolak will support higher taxes, sanctuary cities and bring a “corrupt” style of politics to the governor’s mansion.

“The stakes could not be higher for our state,” he said. “We have only two directions we can go. We have that direction, we can go the way of California, high taxes, more regulations, crazy ideas. Or, we can choose the path of the Nevada that we all love. The Nevada that is a western, libertarian-leaning, independent spirit where we believe in low taxes, less government. We believe in the people. This is where our future is.”

Eight days into early voting, Laxalt asked his supporters to continue recruiting Republicans to the polls, saying that the campaign needs to “dig deeper” to turn out more voters. Democrats have a slight lead in early voting, and both Laxalt and Heller’s races are likely to be tight.

“That’s your charge,” he said. “Every single one of you. When you run into people, ask them: Have you voted?”

Throughout the campaign, Laxalt has cast himself as the candidate for rural Nevada. In 2014, Laxalt lost the state’s urban counties — Washoe and Clark — but swept the remaining rural counties. On Saturday, Laxalt said he would defend Nevada’s “libertarian” and “independent” spirit as governor and applauded President Trump’s decision to hold a rally in Elko last week.

“We had a president of the United States come to rural Nevada because he cares about rural Nevada,” Laxalt said. “What kind of signal does that send?”

In his remarks introducing Pence, Heller said he would fight for all of Nevada, from Carson City to Las Vegas. Heller also touted his early and unwavered support for Supreme Court Justice Judge Kavanaugh and distinguished himself from Rosen on immigration.

“By the way, I voted for Judge Kavanaugh,” Heller said to applause. “Jacky Rosen says she would have voted no. Jacky Rosen says she’s for open borders. I say we need secure borders.”

After his comments, the crowd erupted in chants of “build the wall.”

After riding his horse Lincoln at the Nevada Day parade earlier Saturday morning, Heller gave his remarks in full cowboy attire, wearing a tan vest and keeping on his brown cowboy hat.

“Happy Nevada Day everybody,” Heller said. “I dress for the occasion.”

Vice President Mike Pence and Republican Sen. Dean Heller greet supporters after a rally on Oct. 27, 2018 at the Carson City Airport. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Stumping for Hardy

Earlier in the day, an estimated 500 people came to the rally at the Sands Showroom in The Venetian resort on the Las Vegas Strip, where Pence stressed the high stakes of the election.

“It’s about the fate and the control of the Congress of the United States. It’s about whether we’ll have a Republican Speaker who will stand shoulder to shoulder with President Trump to move America forward, or you’ll have Nancy Pelosi,” he said, to boos. “I was in Congress the last time Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the House, and you don’t ever want that to happen again.”

Pence also addressed a shooting that happened hours earlier at a Pittsburgh synagogue, calling it evil. Authorities said 11 people are dead and at least six injured, including four police officers.

“Our hearts break for the fallen, the families, the injured … We commend these courageous law enforcement for their swift response,” Pence said. “There is no place in America for violence or anti-semitism, and this evil must end.”

Hardy, who served one term in Congress, is in a tough rematch with Democrat Steven Horsford in a district that leans Democratic. At the end of the first week of early voting, Democrats had cast more than 5,000 more votes than Republicans in the Clark County portion of the 4th Congressional District, which accounts for the majority of CD4.

Speaking before Pence, Hardy repeated criticisms from campaign ads that Horsford worked for a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C. after losing the 2014 race, while Hardy moved back to Clark County and worked on a pig farm after losing his 2016 bid for re-election. Horsford’s campaign has pushed back, saying his business, Resources+, is a public relations firm and does not lobby for the passage of legislation.

“I put you first, move forward in the direction you would have me move,” Hardy said. “It’s a wonderful privilege to do so.”

In an interview after the event, Hardy said having the vice president appear on his behalf was “one of the biggest privileges of my life” and “pretty darn cool.” Asked to comment on the early voting trends, Hardy said he would continue to engage and stir up voters.

“It’s always going to be whatever it is on Nov. 6,” he said. “I do what I can control. In politics there’s not a heck of a lot you can control.”

Pence also touted Hardy’s record, saying he has “Nevada values in his veins” and would work closely with the administration to lower taxes, renegotiate trade deals and fix the country’s “broken” immigration system.

“In the short time that Cresent Hardy represented Nevada in Congress, he was recognized as a voice for this state and a voice for conservative values,” he said.

Pence also said Hardy would “always” defend protections for people with pre-existing conditions, a nod to the popular provision of the Affordable Care Act preventing health insurance companies from discriminating or charging more to people with a history of medical conditions or problems. Hardy has said on the campaign trail that the protections are “probably the one thing I really like” out of the federal health-care law, but voted at least three times to overturn the entire law during his two years in Congress.

“The pathway toward continuing America’s growth and prosperity goes right through this congressional district and right through Nevada,” he said.

A man take a video while Vice President Mike Pence, give speaks during a rally at the Venetian Hotel Casino on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.(Jeff Scheid-Nevada Independent)

Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Georgia Sen. David Perdue were also on hand to introduce Hardy and the vice president.

Horsford is getting help from labor unions, including the AFL-CIO and the Culinary Union, in an effort to avoid a repeat of 2014, when he lost in an upset to Hardy. The district’s current representative, Democrat Ruben Kihuen, announced in December that he would not run for re-election following several allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior.

Hardy’s fundraising has lagged Horsford’s. In the most recent quarter, Horsford reported raising $929,000 compared with Hardy’s $290,000. In their pre-general election reports with the Federal Election Commission, Horsford reported raising another $250,000 with $388,000 in available cash on hand, while Hardy raised $73,000 and has $59,000 in cash on hand.

But Hardy has had help from national Republicans in power, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who fundraised for him and headlined a roundtable event on criminal justice reform. Hardy was also one of the candidates who gave an introductory speech ahead of President Donald Trump’s recent rally in Las Vegas, even though Hardy had pulled his support of Trump just ahead of the 2016 election (Hardy has since expressed some regret for doing that and said he voted for Trump).  

Pence’s visit caps off a busy week in Nevada’s political scene, with visits from President Donald Trump, former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and likely 2020 presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker all making appearances in the past week. Both parties see Nevada, with its races for U.S. Senate, governor and two competitive U.S. House seats, as a potential pickup opportunity ahead of the midterm elections.

The Culinary Union and the AFL-CIO have donated to The Indy. You can view a full list of our donors here.

Updated at 12:58 p.m. to include an interview with Cresent Hardy after the rally, and at 4:30 p.m. to add details about Pence's visit to Carson City.

Vice President Mike Pence, autographs a supporters cap during a rally at the Venetian Hotel Casino on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.(Jeff Scheid-Nevada Independent)

 

South Carolina Sen. Graham urges support for Heller to make Democrats ‘pay a price’ for delaying Kavanaugh confirmation

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said it “took like five minutes” for his Republican colleague, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, to commit to backing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and urged voters to make Democrats “pay a price” at the ballot box for stalling the nomination.

Graham, at a small rally of about 100 people at a Republican field office in Henderson on Thursday, said that Democrats “played dirty and they lost” with Kavanaugh’s nomination, referring to a delay in the confirmation process after a woman came forward to accuse the judge of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school. The South Carolina senator framed Heller as a strong and eager supporter of Kavanaugh’s from the beginning despite the fact that each of his votes in Washington, D.C. is “under a microscope” as he faces a tough re-election battle here at home.

“He goes with what he believes is best for Nevada and the country, and he’s willing to take heat. I went to Dean to tell him about Kavanaugh ‘cause I've known Brett for 20 years,” Graham said. “So I started down the road. He says, ‘Don't worry, Lindsey. I got it. He’s highly qualified. I’m okay with Brett Kavanaugh. I'm proud of President Trump's nomination. You have my vote.’ It took like five minutes because he understood that President Trump chose wisely.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, speaks during a campaign stop at the Nevada GOP Victory Office on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

The South Carolina senator said he was “pissed” about the confirmation process and suggested that Democrats would do anything to take back control from Republicans. Graham added that he would “never” do to a nominee what Democrats had done to Kavanaugh and that they “literally need to pay a price for this at the ballot box.”

“If there’s no limits, you’re not much good to the American people,” Graham said. “If you want power so much that you'll ruin a good man's family, then you don't need it. You don't deserve it.”

For that reason, Graham urged Nevadans, including independents, to vote for Heller, who he said is “getting the crap beat out of him” in his run for re-election. Heller, who has served in the position since 2011, is facing a tight battle against first-term Rep. Jacky Rosen, a Democrat; if she loses, there is little to no chance of Democrats wresting control of the Senate from Republicans this year.

“If you’re an independent and you want to stop this crap, deny them the thing they wanted most — power. Tell me how they get the Senate back if [Heller] wins. They can’t get there from here,” Graham said. “So if you want to send a clear signal to America about who we are and the way we do business and how you play the game still matters, elect him.”

Graham praised Heller, who he said he has known for two decades, as “always optimistic” and said that “if you could turn his smile into a solar panel, you’d be in good shape.”

“So I like him. Vote for him. We need him. I don’t know her,” Graham said, referring to Rosen. “But I know who she hangs out with.”

In an interview after the event, Graham defended a repeal-and-replace Obamacare  proposal he authored with U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy from Louisiana that Heller has also signed onto that would take current Affordable Care Act dollars and allocate them to states in the form of block grants. Heller has been lambasted by Rosen and other Democratic groups for supporting the legislation.

Though analyses have said that Nevada would actually receive fewer dollars under the legislation than it is currently projected to under federal law and Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval also opposes it, Graham reiterated his belief that the legislation would result in “a bump up” for Nevada under its block grant formula. He added that the legislation could move forward “without Medicaid reform” but that Congress eventually would have to tackle the issue because Medicaid is “growing so fast it’s eating up the states’ budgets.”

“The best way to save money in Medicaid, I think, is to give the states more control so they can actually deliver dollars more efficiently to the patient,” Graham said. “So I think the key to Medicaid is getting more innovation and flexibility.”

Graham also said in the interview that he believes Heller has established a “pretty good relationship” with President Donald Trump and that the president listens to Heller. But, he said, Heller will ultimately do what’s best for Nevada.

“He will cross the party and he's got the scars to prove it,” Graham said.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller speaks during a campaign stop at the Nevada GOP Victory Office on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018. Heller is in a tight race against Rep. Jacky Rosen. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Heller was complementary of the president during brief remarks that preceded Graham’s during the event, touting the size of the crowd that Trump attracted to a rally last weekend in Elko.

“Last week he was up in Elko. He had 9,000 people, 9,000 people in Elko,” Heller said. “If you’ve ever been there it’s a hard place to find 9,000 people. Obama comes to Las Vegas, he has 1,500.”

He told the crowd that there were clear differences between himself and Rosen on the economy, judicial appointees, and the military and veterans.

“I am thrilled to be here in Las Vegas today having this conversation with you because these differences are so high,” Heller said.

At the rally, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado and the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said that Heller would take the “Western values” and the “Western way” back to Washington, D.C. with him. Businessman and congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian, who also spoke at the rally, noted that all the top races this year would be close and urged voters to find five friends to bring with them to the polls.

Graham, in his remarks during the event, even urged Democrats to “say something” if they believe their party is “going down the wrong road.” To “the radical left” who Graham said is “trying to destroy this country,” the South Carolina senator had a different message: “You can kiss my ass.”

DSCC repeats attacks against Heller on pre-existing conditions in new ad

Focus: U.S. Sen. Dean Heller

Who's paying for it: Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

Size of buy: Part of a $30 million buy in six states

When it starts: Oct. 25

Where it's running: Statewide

The gist: This new ad, titled “Our Turn,” is nearly identical in content to an ad released by the DSCC last month, featuring a woman named Jessica with stage four cancer who says she was at a town hall in Reno where Heller said that he would protect health care. This new ad features Jessica’s story but also includes several other people who highlight their pre-existing conditions like asthma and diabetes and accuse Heller of caving “to political pressure and the corporate interests that fund his campaign.”

“Dean Heller, you voted against us,” they say. “It’s our turn to vote against you.”

Watch the ad below:

Age 50+ voters split on Senate, governor races but oppose Question 3, new poll finds

Signage directs voters toward a voting center

Older Nevada voters are relatively split in races for U.S. Senate and governor but overwhelmingly oppose a major energy choice ballot question, according to a new poll sponsored by AARP.

The poll, which was heavily weighted towards registered voters over the age of 50 who are likely to vote in the upcoming election, found 44 percent of voters were likely to support Republican Sen. Dean Heller compared to 43 percent supporting Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen, with 10 percent undecided. The poll found a similar narrow margin in the state’s gubernatorial race, with 44 percent of voters supporting Republican Adam Laxalt and 41 percent backing Democrat Steve Sisolak, with 10 percent undecided and 5 percent supporting another choice or neither candidate.

But by an almost 2 to 1 margin, voters polled said they were opposed to Question 3, the Energy Choice Initiative. A full 57 percent of voters said they would vote against the measure compared to 28 percent in favor, with 15 percent saying they were unsure. AARP is opposed to the ballot measure.

The poll was conducted by Benenson Strategy Group, which has a B- rating with FiveThirtyEight’s pollster ratings, using live landline and cellphone interviews of 950 total respondents, including 754 people over the age of 50, and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. It was conducted between Sept. 6 and Sept. 26.

The poll also found an even split of those who approve and disapprove of President Donald Trump at 49 percent, with 41 percent saying they strongly disapprove of Trump’s job performance and 33 percent saying they strongly approve of his performance in office.

Respondents also had a largely positive view of the state’s economy; 68 percent said they believed the state’s economy was getting stronger or staying the same, while 10 percent said it was getting weaker.

Aarp Nv Voter Poll 102518_v1 (1) by Riley Snyder on Scribd

Editor's note (Oct. 25 , 9:23 a.m.):  The first part of the headline has been changed from "Elderly" to "Age 50+". We regret that our young reporter thinks 50 is old.

Democratic super PAC makes Medicare spending focal point in U.S. Senate race in new ad

Focus: U.S. Sen. Dean Heller

Who's paying for it: Senate Majority PAC, the super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Size of buy: Part of the super PAC’s ongoing seven-figure buy

When it starts: Oct. 25

Where it's running: Statewide

The gist: This new Democratic super PAC ad seeks to make Medicare a focal point in the U.S. Senate race after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested last week that Congress needs to reform entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to reduce the federal budget deficit. The ad includes a clip of Heller saying, “I have not or will not support legislation that does weaken Medicare,” and contrasts that against his vote in favor of a budget resolution to cut $473 billion from Medicare over the next decade.

“Now Dean Heller’s party bosses admitted there’s a plan to cut Medicare even further,” the ad says. “Dean Heller’s caved to them before and he’ll cave this time too because Dean Heller still puts his political party over your health care.”

Watch the ad below:

New Republican super PAC ad says 'it's easy to confuse' Rosen and Pelosi

Senator Jacky Rosen

Focus: Democratic Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Jacky Rosen

Who's paying for it: Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Size of buy: $2.3 million on broadcast, cable, radio and digital

When it starts: Oct. 23

Where it's running: Statewide

The gist: As Rosen has criticized her opponent, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, as a “rubber stamp” for President Donald Trump on the campaign trail, this new ad from the Senate Leadership Fund calls the freshman congresswoman a “rubber stamp” for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The ad begins by calling the two women “Nancy Rosen” and “Jacky Pelosi,” saying “it’s easy to confuse them.” The ad then says that Rosen has voted with Pelosi 90 percent of the time, pointing to votes against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December and Kate’s Law, a proposal to increase the penalties for undocumented immigrants who are deported and return to the United States.

Watch the ad below: