U.S. Chamber of Commerce weighs in on Berkley/Heller

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce weighed in on Nevada’s U.S. Senate race today, debuting a television ad that manages to blast Shelley Berkley and praise Dean Heller in 30 seconds.

Nevada is one of four states the chamber has targeted in this round of Senate campaign ads, all variously praising Republican candidates and/or criticizing Democratic ones in Hawaii, New Mexico and North Dakota.

A chamber spokesman declined to say how much the business organization is spending to run the Nevada ad,  which is airing in both the northern and southern parts of the state.

In it, a boxer takes punches to the face and to the gut as a crowd boos, dark music plays and a male narrator announces that "Washington continues to hit Nevada job creators."

"Whose corner is Shelley Berkley in?" it asks, showing Berkley with her mouth open in an unflattering pose while criticizing the Las Vegas Democrat’s vote for health care reform, or "government-mandated health care, which hurts small business."

It also is the first commercial of the campaign to take issue with Berkley’s vote in 2009 for the so-called "cap and trade" bill that sought to regulate carbon pollutants.

Supporters called the bill a key tool in the fight against climate change and to spur development of cleaner energy. Critics derided it an effective "energy tax" and a big drag on the economy.

The Chamber of Commerce ad cites a 2009 Heritage Foundation study that concluded it would increase energy costs for a family or four by $829, or "nearly $1,000 a year," as the commercial says.

Suddenly the screen brightens, the music swells and Heller’s smiling face is shown.

"Dean Heller is on the side of small business owners and taxpayers," says the narrator, noting he voted to "repeal the health care law, lower energy costs," and declaring the Republican senator "the leader Nevada needs."

Berkley’s campaign in response released a 15-page rebuttal that points to votes she cast in favor of small business benefits, the tourism industry and clean energy initiatives.

On cap and trade, the campaign cited Politifact and other sources that disputed its description as an "energy tax."

At the same time, she poked at Heller, pointing to his vote against a small business stimulus bill in September 2010 that fellow Republican, Gov. Brian Sandoval, later praised for its job growth potential in Nevada.

"This attack ad is nothing short of a weak attempt to distract from Senator Dean Heller’s pro-outsourcing track record," Berkley spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said. "Instead of distorting Shelley Berkley’s record, Dean Heller and his allies should join her in putting middle-class families first and creating jobs that won’t leave Nevada."

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