Political pundits from across the country have named Senator Dean Heller as one of the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress. And before he can even think about campaigning in a general election, he first has to make it past the primary where he’s facing opposition from the right. Reno Public Radio sat down with Heller’s challenger, Danny Tarkanian, to find out why he’s running against the incumbent.
Why run for this? Why challenge a sitting Republican?
Well, I ran for Congress in District Three last election, and I lost by one point. That was the closest race anybody on the Republican side had in a contested race against the Democrats in 2016. I got calls and emails and social media requests from hundreds of people in Nevada, all asking – some pleading with me – to run against Dean Heller. They wanted somebody to run against Dean Heller that was a supporter of the president and his America First policies. Somebody that was going to be honest and stand firm on his convictions of what he promises when they campaign compared to when they go back to Washington DC.
What is it about Senator Heller’s record that you take issue with?
He doesn’t tell the truth about the positions that are important to the people of Nevada He said he’d repeal Obama care. He said he was never going to provide funding for organizations that provide funding for abortions including Planned Parenthood. Then he comes here into Reno and had a town hall and a lot of people were screaming at him about the Planned Parenthood issue and he promised on film that he would protect the funding of Planned Parenthood. He completely flipped again.
He said he was going to be tough on immigration when he ran for office. Then he joined the gang of eight where he advocated giving citizenship to immigrants. The thing the I hear from people all over the state is that they are sick and tired of politicians who say one thing to them when they are running for office and do the exact opposite when they get to office, and Dean Heller exhibited that over and over again.
People that know me know one thing I am very honest in my positions about where I stand for. They know that I have the courage to stand up for those positions even if it could cost me an election or something else. People respect that and that’s the difference between Dean Heller and I.
We already have a first-term senator, now. Do you think another freshman senator will serve the state adequately?
Dean Heller is in his first term now. If he wins this time it’ll be his second term that he’ll be in. It’s not like you’re replacing a Harry Reid who was in the majority position.
Furthermore, you need somebody that’s going to go back there and represent the people of Nevada with the promises that you made during your campaign and honor the votes that were given to you because of those promises. I think that is a much better representation than to have somebody back in Washington D.C. who promises something and goes back to Washington D.C. and breaks their promises to the voters no matter how much seniority they have.
What about President Trump’s agenda is right for Nevada?
I think the America policies that articulated when he ran for office and most of what he’s trying to accomplish now are all right for Nevada. They’re right for the country.
Who in their right minds don’t think that we should have fair trade deals where the United States is getting just as good, if not better, terms than all the other countries they have trade deals with? We’ve always been getting the worst deals.
Who in their right mind thinks we should go out and nation build and invade other countries because we don’t like certain dictators that are in those countries? Donald Trump was very much against that just as I am. I was against the original Iraq War.
Who in their right mind doesn’t think we should get rid of unreasonable and burdensome regulations that are costing our businesses billions of dollars? Donald Trump is doing that right now with executive orders.
Look what’s happened to our economy. We have the lowest unemployment rate in 16 years. We had GDP hit 3.1 in the first full term of Donald Trump’s presidency. We have seen border crossings down 70 percent. ISIS is being destroyed in Iraq and Syria. They’re being completely wiped out which President Obama had years to do and he couldn’t do. We have NATO members finally paying their fair share of the NATO expenses and not leaving the whole burden to the United States.
Why are people excited about that?
I think it’s safe to say, if elected, the president would see you as an ally.
Yeah, I’m going to be an ally of his America First policies as long as he’s promoting those – and for the most part, he is – I’m going to support those policies.
That was our reporter Paul Boger speaking to Republican Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian. KUNR reached out to Senator Dean Heller on several occasions but received no response. We also spoke to Democratic candidate Jacky Rosen. That interview can be heard here.