Republican Dean Heller announces his candidacy for governor of Nevada
CARSON CITY, Nevada (AP) – Republican Dean Heller on Monday announced his intention to run for governor of Nevada, saying he would oppose government mandates on masks and vaccines and tighten voting laws if elected to lead the state of the field battle.
The former Nevada secretary of state and US senator has historically positioned himself as a moderate and drew attention to high-profile clashes with former President Donald Trump. His remarks on Monday – including those in support of voter identification laws and a new Texas law that restricts abortions – signal his willingness to push forward issues that galvanize the Republican base.
In a converted warehouse where he worked as a youth and which now serves as an office for the Carson City Republican Party, Heller spoke out against Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak’s policies on coronaviruses and blamed him for the rate of Unemployment atop Nevada, rising crime and suicide rates.
For months, Republicans and Democrats have been expecting Heller to enter the race as the best-known among the overcrowded challengers in hopes of toppling Sisolak in next year’s election. The Associated Press confirmed its plans to participate in the race last week.
The pandemic has put governors in the spotlight as the public has debated the merits of the state-level executive actions they are able to take. With 36 candidates for re-election next year, the 2022 midterms will serve as a referendum on their performance and state policies in place to contain the virus.
Republicans see Nevada, where President Joe Biden gained 2.4 percentage points, as a recovery opportunity in 2022 as a Democrat occupies the White House and, historically, midterm voters have turned to the party opposition, for governors as well as for Congress.
Heller, who lost the Nevada Senate race in 2018 to Democrat Jacky Rosen by five percentage points, said the warrants and closures had burdened businesses and harmed schoolchildren. As governor, he said he would allow private companies to issue warrants of their choice.
Other Republican challengers include Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, attorney Joey Gilbert, surgeon Fred Simon and businessmen Guy Nohra. The primary election will take place in June 2022, five months before the mid-terms.
Sam Metz is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative corps. Report for America is a national, non-profit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.