Heller expresses safety concerns about ‘testy’ upcoming Republican National Convention

WASHINGTON — A spokeswoman for the Republican National Convention offered assurances Monday the event will be secure after U.S. Sen. Dean Heller said he may skip it over concerns of his own safety.

“Things could get pretty testy,” the Nevada Republican told KSNV-TV, Channel 3, which reported Heller had seen recent protests at Donald Trump rallies.

“Frankly my biggest concern is security, whether or not I feel it is safe enough to attend a convention.”

Kirsten Kukowski, the convention’s director of communications, said planning is underway to keep the convention, events and community secure while balancing local impact.

“The democratic process is playing out across the country and if no one candidate reaches a majority of the delegates there will be an open and transparent process in Cleveland,” Kukowski said.

“Either way voters are enthusiastic about this process, and we will have a safe and productive convention in July.”

She added the Secret Service is the lead agency for the National Special Security Event.

“They are working with local, state and federal partners who together are developing security plans leading up to the national convention,” Kukowski said.

Heller, who initially endorsed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, previously expressed concern over the impact Trump, the billionaire businessman-turned-reality-TV-star-turned-Republican-front-runner, could have on his party.

“I think he’s digging us a deep hole,” he told the Review-Journal editorial board in September.

Since then, Trump’s campaign has drawn even more attention as he appears to encourage his supporters to take on protesters at his rallies. He has even offered to pay the legal fees.

Protests inside more than one of Trump’s events have included physical assaults.

Last week, CNN reported that Trump warned his fellow Republicans that his supporters would riot if he is denied the nomination.

Heller suggested Trump will go to the convention in Cleveland without the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination, which would lead to a contested convention.

“I’m going to guess he’s not,” he said of getting the required number of delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot.

“So that would make Cleveland pretty interesting.”

Heller was not available for comment Monday. He was in Cuba, along with other members of Congress, as President Obama made his historic trip as part of his effort to improve U.S. relations with the island nation.

Contact Jim Myers at jmyers@reviewjournal.com or 202-783-1760. Find @myers_dc on Twitter.