Bilbray picks new campaign manager in congressional bid

Democratic congressional candidate Erin Bilbray on Wednesday said she hired a new campaign manager, a seasoned Washington, D.C., political operative with experience in consulting, legislative work and polling.

Erica Prosser replaces Bradley Mayer, who resigned less than two weeks ago, saying he didn’t want to run a federal campaign. Mayer planned to continue consulting for the Bilbray campaign, however.

Bilbray said she hasn’t known Prosser long but hired her for her record of accomplishments and good reputation.

“She has incredible experience,” Bilbray said in an interview. “She comes highly recommended.”

Bilbray’s campaign to defeat U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., in the 3rd Congressional District got off to a shaky start, according to critics who raked her for once calling Heck “un-American” despite his Army Reserve status and Iraq War service.

Prosser said she probably would arrive in Nevada in early February with the 2014 election year underway. Bilbray doesn’t face any Democratic primary opponent but could by the time candidate filing opens March 3 and ends March 14.

Heck’s congressional seat in Southern Nevada is the most competitive in the state and one of the most vulnerable in the country.

“Everybody has always spoken very highly of her, and this is a great opportunity for Democrats to pick up a seat,” Prosser said in an interview. “I think we need to come in and really start talking about Erin and make sure voters get to know her.”

Raising Bilbray’s profile among voters is the first priority, she said. Her second is focusing on Heck’s work.

Prosser said she wants to “make sure they (voters) know Mr. Heck’s record and that he has not been there for Nevada.”

Bilbray, a native Nevadan, is a political consultant herself and founded Emerge Nevada, which trains female candidates. Her father is James Bilbray, a Democrat who represented the 1st Congressional District from 1987 to 1995.

Nevada’s population has exploded to more than 2.7 million since the mid-1990s, meaning many of the state’s newer residents don’t know the Bilbrays, which gives the two-term incumbent Heck a name recognition advantage.

Bilbray noted that she outraised Heck in the first reporting period as a candidate: $253,000 to his $170,000 in the fall. He had more cash on hand: $293,000 compared with her $185,000.

More Democratic registered voters live in the district (492,956) than Republicans (415,320), but GOP turnout often is greater than Democratic.

Prosser most recently worked for the Mack/Crounse Group, a Democratic consulting firm. She was on a team helping House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Prosser also has worked for lawmakers and on campaigns in Texas and Pennsylvania and for Democratic pollster Celinda Lake.

Contact reporter Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Follow her on Twitter @lmyerslvrj.