By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian said this week that he is prepared to run tough campaigns against incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in the primary election and against Democrat Jacky Rosen in the general election in 2018.
Tarkanian, a strong supporter of the policies of President Donald Trump, said on Nevada Newsmakers that he expects Heller’s campaign “will get dirty with me” in the primary election and he’ll be prepared for it.
“Look, Dean Heller’s campaign consultant, Mike Slanker, he ran (State Sen. Michael) Roberson’s (congressional) campaign against me in 2016,” Tarkanian said. “They outspent me 4-to-1. They said the same type of allegations — just deceitful, lying allegations — and I still beat them by eight percent.
“Dean Heller is going to do the same thing,” Tarkanian said. “He can’t run on his record or run of what he has done so they are going to get dirty with me again and we are going to fight back.”
Tarkanian noted that Rosen remains in legal limbo after a Clark County District Court judge recently denied her motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by Tarkanian, stemming from Rosen’s political advertising in their 2016 congressional campaign.
The two could meet again in the 2018 general election if both win U.S. Senate primary challenges.
“I’m not going to back down again and let people tear down my character when it has already been proven that these statements are false and defamatory by one court and a judge in the second,” Tarkanian said.
Rosen won the 3rd Congressional District race in 2016 against Tarkanian by 1.27 percentage points.
Tarkanian, however, alleges statements in her campaign about him were false and defamatory. He contends Rosen’s ads were “nearly identical” to defamatory claims made by his opponent in a 2004 campaign, state Sen. Mike Schneider, a Democrat.
Tarkanian also lost that election to the state senate in 2004 but was awarded $150,000 in damages in 2009 after winning a lawsuit against Schneider.
Tarkanian contends that Heller has already alienated some of the GOP base in Nevada for saying one thing to voters then doing the opposite in Washington D.C.
Tarkanian compared Heller to former U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, who lost the 2016 U.S. Senate race after waffling on his support for Trump.
“First of all, Dean Heller cannot win a general election,” Tarkanian said. “He absolutely can’t win a general election because he’s not going to get a certain amount of the Republican base to vote for him in any circumstances. You saw that happen to Joe Heck in his race. Dean is even worse off than that.”
Heller is seen by some as the most endangered GOP incumbent senator in next year’s midterm elections. He is the only one running for re-election in a state President Trump lost to former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Tarkanian said Heller has changed positions on issues such as the funding of Planned Parenthood and the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.
Tarkanian is a well-known candidate, having run for office five times. He has won four GOP primaries but has never been successful in the general election. Heller makes fun of him for it, Tarkanian said.
“I have taken some losses in my career,” Tarkanian said. “I have called them temporary setbacks. Dean Heller ridicules them. But one thing I’m proud of is that I stand by my convictions. I fight for my convictions. I articulate those convictions. And you don’t see me being wishy-washy just so I can get elected or make favor with a certain group of people.”
Heller’s insults toward him have already begun for the 2018 campaign cycle, Tarkanian said.
“You know, Dean Heller criticized me on the radio down south just a few days ago because he said I sue people when I lose,” Tarkanian said. “I sue people when they lie about me, defame me and say things they know are not true and I’ve won both of my cases. So I think that could be a main point we can use against Jacky Rosen in the general election.”
If Tarkanian gets by Heller in the primary, he said he’ll have momentum against Rosen.
“I’m in a perfect position to beat Jacky Rosen,” he said. “She beat me by one percent (for a seat in the U.S. House) in the 2016 presidential election (cycle) when the Democrats spent more money in my race than any race in the country and they used that on ads that defamed my character.
“Now a lot of people would walk away from that and move on,” Tarkanian said. “I won a defamation lawsuit on the exact same allegations in 2009. Jacky Rosen decided to use them again. I sued her and the judge of the case has stated in the hearing that he didn’t believe that her statements were true. They were substantially similar to the ones that had already been ruled defamatory. She knew about the court case, so we had a good chance of showing malice and we had a probability of success on the merits.
“We’re going to use that against Jacky Rosen because that is what my opponents have used against me,” Tarkanian said. “They use these smears, lies, these evil tactics.”
Tarkanian said he is expecting to be awarded damages in his suit against Rosen. “Oh absolutely,” he said, adding the case still has to go to trial.
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