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AFP president talks Heller, Laxalt and making Nevada more conservative

Americans for Prosperity, the nation’s largest grassroots conservative group, has yet to decide if it’ll support Sen. Dean Heller, but will back Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s bid for governor. The group also strongly opposed the recent omnibus spending bill and thinks Republicans are hurting themselves politically with bad policy. That’s according to AFP president Tim Phillips.

“We’ll look at each individual candidate or office holder and make a decision as to whether or not that person has reflected the issues we care a lot about,” said Phillips while filming Nevada Politics Today. “We haven’t made firm decisions yet on Nevada.”

Phillips said AFP looks to support “champions” of the free market and gave Heller’s record a mixed review. He praised Heller for his work on tax cuts but dinged him for other votes.

“We looked at what he did on Obamacare,” said Phillips. “He did not vote for a full repeal. That was deeply disappointing. Then he voted for this omnibus bill that was such a boondoggle on the spending front.”

AFP is already supporting Laxalt, whom Phillips praised for his position on a range of issues, including taxes, reducing regulation and school choice.

“And then criminal justice reform: That’s an important issue for our network,” said Phillips. “Laxalt has been a national leader on trying to help folks break the pattern of incarceration for nonviolent crimes.”

Nationally, Republicans have hurt themselves politically by embracing big-government spending policies said Phillips.

“The Republicans have, frankly, been struggling on the policy front this year in Washington,” said Phillips. “It’s been disappointing to see the omnibus — a $1.3 trillion boondoggle that came through. It’s undermining their efforts.”

Phillips dismissed the Republican-led effort to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment as little more than a gimmick. “Most Americans are going to look at that and go, ‘Let me get this straight, so many of these jokers just voted to raise spending by an outrageous amount — when they promised to cut spending? Now, they’re going to vote for a balanced budget amendment? Come on.”

He contrasted that approach with 2011 and 2012 when the House “passed the (Paul) Ryan budgets. They actually reformed Medicaid and Medicare. And then the House went out and ran on those — Republicans did. And what do you think happened? They got re-elected and held their majorities. That was a gutsy thing.”

Phillips said that AFP has made an eight-year investment in Nevada, which will continue for years to come. He said that being in “communities, day in and day out, over the long haul” is the way to change hearts and minds.

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