Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) plans to run against Republican Sen. Dean Heller for his Senate seat in Nevada, according to multiple people familiar with her plans.
Heller is widely considered the most vulnerable Republican up for re-election in 2018 and is the only GOP senator this cycle who represents a state won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. A Public Policy Polling survey released Monday had Heller receiving just 39 percent of the vote if the match-up were held today against a generic Democrat, who earned 46 percent of support among Nevada voters.
Rosen is expected to formally announce in a couple weeks, according to one source.
The recruitment of Rosen has the strong imprint of former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who was entrusted by the party establishment to identify the strongest candidate to challenge Heller. Reid settled on Rosen, figuring that she’s a fresh face with little political baggage and would be the most formidable opponent, according to a person familiar with the matter.
After Reid settled on Rosen, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) “closed the deal” and talked to Rosen four or five times to convince her to run, that person said. Schumer’s office declined to comment.
Rosen was first elected to the House last November to Nevada’s Third Congressional District, a swing seat that was vacated by former GOP Rep. Joe Heck when he ran for the Senate last fall. Other Democrats who had also been named as potential challengers include Reps. Ruben Kihuen and Dina Titus, as well as former state treasurer Kate Marshall.
Titus said in an interview earlier this year that she was strongly considering challenging Heller and that she had conducted polling to assess her viability.
Heller has faced considerable political pressure back home as the Senate takes up its proposal to repeal Obamacare, on which a vote is expected as early as next week before senators leave for the Fourth of July recess.
The Nevada Republican has said he opposed the Obamacare repeal measure that passed the House in May, but has said little about the direction of the Senate legislation other than to raise concerns about rolling back the Medicaid expansion enacted under the seven-year-old law.
Heller was first appointed to the Senate in 2011 and was officially elected to his seat the following year. A Heller campaign spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment on Rosen’s candidacy.