Heller might skip GOP convention; Sandoval will attend

Four years ago, Dean Heller skipped the Republican National Convention to campaign at home in Nevada.

In 2008, Heller was seeking re-election to Congress and he easily won a second term.

Now an appointed U.S. senator, Heller said Thursday he's thinking of staying home again in 2012 to campaign for the Senate as he faces a tough race.

It all depends, he said, on whether he's offered a prime-time speaking spot at the national GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 27-30.

Such high-profile speaking roles are hard to get and often go to rising stars who can help the presidential ticket -- led this year by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

"There are probably some pretty good speakers that are in the queue a little bit higher than me," Heller told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, "But that's okay."

Heller said he doesn't expect to know about a possible speaking role until August when the national convention is set.

"If they want us to speak, we'll probably be there," Heller said. "If they don't choose for us to get a good speaking position, we'll probably stay here and campaign."

Heller said he has attended two previous Republican National Conventions: in Philadelphia in 2000 and in New York in 2004.

He suggested he wasn't worried about his potential Tampa role one way or another and he's got a lot of election-year work to do back home.

"I didn't make Minnesota last cycle," Heller said, adding of his Tampa plans. "It depends on what's happening at the time."

Heller's opponent, U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., plans to attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., which is set for Sept. 4-6. Berkley's a national delegate, but she may not attend all three days of the convention where President Barack Obama will be feted as the party's standard bearer for re-election to a second term.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, the first Hispanic governor of Nevada, plans to attend the convention but the details haven't been worked out yet, a spokesman said Thursday.

Sandoval is the sort of popular Latino political figure who could win a speaking slot at the convention. The governor's office said his schedule is being held open during the convention as he and other Republicans across the nation wait to hear what role, if any, they might play.

At one point, Sandoval was considered a possible vice presidential running mate for Romney. But the Nevada governor has repeatedly said he has no interest and wants to run for re-election in 2014.