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Bilbray poll contends House race ‘wide open’

A poll taken by Erin Bilbray’s campaign for Congress to excite potential donors contends the U.S. House race between her and incumbent Rep. Joe Heck is “wide open” and winnable.

Heck, a Republican, leads Democrat Bilbray 39 percent to 31 percent in initial questioning of 400 likely voters. After being read “positive messages” about each candidate’s experience and qualifications, respondents favor Bilbray 42 percent to 41 percent, according to a poll memo released by the Bilbray campaign after it began leaking on Tuesday.

The survey consists of the first numbers that have emerged from the closely watched House race in Congressional District 3 in suburban Las Vegas. It was taken by the Mellman Group, Bilbray’s pollster, on April 21-23. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.9 percent.

The memo’s purpose was to persuade potential donors to open their wallets for Bilbray, a Las Vegas political trainer making her first run for office. The campaign did not release internal figures from the poll.

“Congressman Heck starts out in an uncommonly weak position for a third-term incumbent,” said Bilbray campaign manager Erica Prosser. “We found voters really respond to our message once they learn about Erin and her positions, Heck is known and doesn’t get the same kind of movement.

“When voters hear our message and are informed about both candidates they choose Erin,” Prosser said. “We are confident we will have the resources to win this race.”

Heck’s campaign did not comment immediately.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau chief Steve Tetreault at 202-783-1760 or STetreault@stephensmedia.com. Follow @STetreaultDC on Twitter

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