weather icon Clear


Since he serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and is a member of the Republican Policy Committee, Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., refers to himself on his website as a "rising star in Congress."

That is not how his opponents, Democrat Nancy Price and Independent American Party candidate Russell Best, portray him.

To them, Heller is a do-nothing congressman who is using his committee assignments to collect millions of dollars for his 2012 campaign to replace John Ensign in the U.S. Senate.

Price even predicts Ensign will resign in 2011 and Heller will be appointed to replace him. She figures she can derail his ambitions.

"This is an anti-incumbent year," said Price, a former Nevada National Guard and Air Force officer. "Dean is taking the race for granted and that will help me. A lot of Republican moderates don’t like what is happening with the Tea Party. They are going to vote for me."

Heller won’t respond to speculation that he will run for the Senate.

But he said he shows up at almost every small parade in rural Nevada and participates often in town hall meetings. That hardly is the path of someone who takes his re-election for granted, he said.

He contends his Ways and Means assignment is a coup for Nevada.

"That committee deals with health care and taxes," he said. "No other issues are more important to Nevada. There is going to be a real fight in Washington, D.C., next year over the direction of this country. My No. 1 priority is to turn the economy around. Next is creating jobs."

He said he supports the continuation of the Bush-era tax cuts. If it fails, then he said there will be higher taxes on 50 percent of small businesses.

"I don’t think you want a tax on small business," Heller said. "If you want to expand the economy, you can’t do it by tax increases"

Congress may be experiencing party warfare, but Heller noted he still passed a bill through the House in September to place the same criminal penalties on ultralight pilots who smuggle in drugs from Mexico as those smuggling in more traditional ways. Because of far lesser penalties, ultralight aircraft increasingly are being used by drug smugglers, he added.

Best has said Heller isn’t even conservative, noting current U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle accused him of being a liberal when they faced off in 2006.

As an example of that liberalism, Best said Heller voted for an unbalanced federal budget in 2008 and to spend money on a sea lion research project.

"How many sea lions do we have in Nevada?" he asked.

Best said Heller has become a "permanent government employee" having been a two-term assemblyman, a three-term secretary of state and now a two-term member of Congress.

"He needs to come home and live under the laws he has passed," he added.

Those comments are just wrong, according to Heller. There has not been a balanced budget since he arrived in Washington, and he never voted for any federal budget. He added he checked and could not find any sea lion research bills in 2008.

Price is a former member of the Board of Regents who is married to former Assemblyman Bob Price, D-North Las Vegas.

She said one only has to look at the highway construction in Nevada to realize the federal stimulus program is creating jobs. Continuing tax cuts should be dependent on companies creating new jobs and pledging not to send jobs overseas, she added.

The national health care law is a "tremendous start to a healthy and educated population," but it does not go far enough to help veterans. She would bring American troops home quickly from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"If we had more people in the service, we would have fewer wars. If we had fewer wars we would have a smaller deficit."

Heller said he relies on the opinions of American commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan. When they say it is time for the troops to come home, he will support them.

Defeating Heller in what looks to be a Republican year won’t be easy. He won the 2nd Congressional District seat for the second time in 2008 by defeating Democrat Jill Derby by 11 percentage points in what was a Democratic year.

Heller noted that 30,000 people who voted for President Barack Obama also voted for him.

The sprawling district covers all of Nevada except the most urban portions of metropolitan Las Vegas. The district has 29,000 more Republicans than Democrats and a Democrat never has won the seat.

Heller had raised $1,065,000 in contributions at the time of the last reporting period which ended June 30. Price said she just surpassed $5,000 in contributions. Best has less than $5,000 in contributions.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Week in Pictures: April 28-May4

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Las Vegas Science & Technology Festival, Pirate Fest, weather and Canelo vs. Jacobs. Children play inside a hot air balloon provided by Las Vegas Balloon Rides during the Las Vegas Science & Technology Festival on Saturday, May 4, […]

Week in Pictures: April 21-April 27

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Golden Knights playoffs, Raiders draft and WBA lightweight championship bout. The Meadows School third baseman Sam Kaplan looks in a high ground ball during fielding practice, he will play at Cornell University next year on Wednesday, April 24, […]

Week in Pictures: April 14-April 20

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Golden Knights playoffs and Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend. The Pink Moon, the nickname for April’s full moon, is not pink at all but yellow and sets in the west behind the Raiders Stadium early on Friday, April […]

Week in Pictures: March 17-March 23

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Vegas Golden Knights, Cesar Chavez Day festival, prep baseball and El Cortez shooting. Brooklyn Ruiz, 10, center, of Redlands, Calif., jumps out of the pool while playing with her cousin, Analyce Lopez, 11, of Redlands, Calif., left, and […]

Week in Pictures: March 10-March 16

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including the West Coast Conference tournament, the Mountain West tournament and the Pac-12 tournament. The Stanford Cardinals celebrate after defeating the Oregon Ducks during a NCAA college basketball game in the final of the Pac-12 women’s tournament at the […]

Week in Pictures: Jan. 14-20

Take a look at some striking pictures from Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including weather features, a boxing match and the super blood wolf moon. Ronald Holmes plays the alto saxophone on The Strip as dark clouds move in on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Las Vegas. Clouds, rain and snow are expected in […]

7 ways autocomplete can get smarter

Autocomplete is one of the best (or depending on how hastily you push ‘send’ – worst) things in the world. We rely on it so much that Google plans to let us autocomplete whole emails. Here are seven ways predictive input can improve. 1. Recognizing names from previous emails Jakub Kokoszka has a tough name to […]

Movie posters might soon be based on your clicks

You may have thought you left Blockbuster behind, but the basic way we browse movies hasn’t changed all that much. We peruse poster after poster, kind of like walking the aisles of a ‘90s-era video store. That one poster image, meant to appeal to as many people as possible, is often all we see before […]

What I’ll be covering at NAB 2018

The National Association of Broadcasters show kicks off this weekend in Las Vegas.  The show focuses on new and emerging technologies and trends in relation to the media and entertainment industries. As it’s not open to the public, I’ll be at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday to share some of […]