‘Happy warrior’ Heller cherishes comeback gubernatorial run: ‘I’m going to enjoy every minute of it’
By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
Former U.S. Senator Dean Heller branded himself as the only person in the Nevada Republican gubernatorial primary who is “a proven conservative who has worked with the White House,” Wednesday on Nevada Newsmakers.
“I am the only proven conservative in this race and I will take my conservative record, whether it’s on abortion, on crime, on guns, on immigration and on any other issue against any other candidate in this race,” Heller told host Sam Shad.
Heller, who rose through the ranks of Nevada politics, starting as an Assemblyman for the Carson City area in 1990, left public life after losing to Democrat Jacky Rosen in his 2018 U.S. Senate re-election effort.
Heller declined to call this gubernatorial race the most important of his career, although it would certainly entail a difficult political comeback if he were to lose.
Instead, Heller said, “This will be the most enjoyable race I’ve ever been in, because this is what I wanted to do. Even if I had been re-elected to the United States Senate, I’d still be in this race.”
Heller said he’s had a life-long ambition to be governor.
“I am doing today, exactly what I want to do,” he said. “I don’t care how hard it is, how difficult this race is, I am going to enjoy every minute of it,”
The former secretary of state and Northern Nevada congressman said he jumped back into politics because of the “dumb decisions” by Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak.
“After my last election, I really thought I was through, so was my wife (Lynne),’ he said. “By the way, she would agree with me on that. But then 2020 happened,” referring to Democratic election victories.
“Frankly, I believe that a lot of politicians made a lot of dumb decisions,” Heller said. “Closing down the state. All of these mask mandates. All these things we are seeing now.
“Gov. Sisolak has put Nevada on top of every bad list, from crime rates, to unemployment rates to graduation rates and suicide rates,” Heller continued. “We can’t keep going on like this. This is bad.”
Heller described himself as a U.S. Senator who helped enact strong conservative policies in Washington D.C. during meetings at the Trump White House.
“I am the only person in this race who has sat in the White House and helped write the America First agenda,” he said. “I not only helped write it, I voted for it and support it to this day. I am the only candidate in this race who has been in the White House, helping Trump with his tax cuts.
“I was there,” Heller continued. “I was in the room. I was helping write these conservative measures. Every judge that was brought in front of the United States Senate, over 150, including two Supreme Court justices, every one of those I voted for and supported. In fact, I was the only member of the (Nevada Congressional) delegation that voted against the Wall Street bailout when I was in Washington D.C.”
Heller, though, had a cold then warmer relationship with Trump. Trump has not yet endorsed anyone in the GOP gubernatorial primary.
Heller, however, said he would welcome Trump’s blessing.
“I would take it,” Heller said. “I hope Donald Trump likes and sees what I am doing. I believe that Donald Trump is far better than the President that we have today.
“I’ll even go this far: With all of the problems that we have in America today, whether it is the border or it is inflation or oil prices or what is going on off shore with $1 billion in every one of those boats we can’t bring in, if you want to change those problems in 24 hours, bring Trump back,” Heller said.
“Literally, he could solve all those problems in 24 hours just by putting people on notice,” Heller said. “Nobody cares what this White House, what this President is doing on all of those topics. We have to change it. So if President Trump likes my message, I would welcome him up into this campaign. But I want him to like what I have to say.”
Heller has spoken to people in Trump’s orbit but not with the former President.
“I have been in contact, not directly, but with people within his circles,” Heller said, adding the conversations were “all very positive. But again, I want him to like what I am saying and what my message is.”
Heller also acknowledged that he and his former top consultant, Michael Slanker, the Principal and founder of November, Inc., are no longer a political team.
“We were together about 12 years, yeah, and by mutual agreement, went separate ways,” Heller said. “I think I will just leave it at that. It is really not something worth discussing. This is about the governor’s race and not about consultants and I certainly don’t want to talk about consultants on your show.”
Shad noted that other big-name Republicans and Republican consultants, such as former Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison and the man known as “the kingmaker,” Sig Rogich, are supporting Heller’s GOP primary opponent, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.
“I am fine with that,” Heller said. “I am absolutely fine with that. Put them all in that camp. Because I am going to win this race because I am the most conservative candidate in this race. And the most proven candidate and my message is going to work. I am the most conservative and that conservative message is going to win this race and I’m going to beat Sisolak.”
Heller would not say how much money would be needed to finance a successful gubernatorial campaign.
“I don’t have the answer to your question. You probably have to talk to the people who are involved in my race,” Heller said. “But you just hit on why everybody went to Lombardo: Consultants go to where ever the money is. And when they see big bucks, all of a sudden they see big paychecks. So I’ll keep it at that.”
Watch this episode of Nevada Newsmakers.