Race for Heller's U.S. Senate seat could get crowded from both sides

The race for Dean Heller's U.S. Senate seat in 2018 will get crowded. (MGN Online)

The Right is grumbling, says conservative talker Kevin Wall.

“Those that tried to forgive and forget when Dean Heller said I'm a never Trumper – all those scabs have been opened up,” he told me, referring to Heller’s distaste of Trump during the 2016 election.

For the Right, this didn't help, either.

“It doesn't protect Nevadans on Medicaid and the most vulnerable Nevadans,” Heller said Friday, standing by Gov. Brian Sandoval, as the two rejected the GOP Obamacare replacement bill in the Senate.

RELATED LINK | On eve of health care rollout, Heller says his vote still up-for-grabs

Heller said he was worried the bill would leave tens of thousands of Nevadans uncovered, an assessment echoed early this week by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, which said nationwide, the Senate bill would leave 22 million Americans uninsured.

Heller’s repeal-and-replace reluctance unleashed all sorts of political punishment: Even a pro-Trump PAC came out against him:

"Call Senator Heller – tell him America needs him to keep his promise,” said the spot from the group “America First Policies,” which later pulled the ad after getting barrage of criticism from GOP senators.

Wall says Nevada Republicans are now talking primary.

“But now you've got (former Congressional candidate) Danny Tarkanian, who, on my program came out and said he's looking at the race, Victoria Seaman, former Assemblywoman, she's looking at the race, Dan Schwartz, state treasurer – he's looking at the race,” Wall tells me.

For the Democrats, freshman Congresswoman Jacky Rosen tells me she's running against Heller. She's reportedly Harry Reid's pick.

RELATED LINK | Nevada House member plans to run for Senate

Now comes word that Congresswoman Dina Titus is thinking about it, too.

“We've been talking to people, we're polling right now, got to weigh personal as well as the political. Yes, I'm taking it seriously,” she said to me from her office in Washington. “I think I can win a primary and I think that Dean Heller is vulnerable, so that’s the political side,” Titus says.

“The personal side – it will be a six year commitment, it takes the next year-and-a-half of doing nothing but fundraising – that’s time away from my family, and also, here in the House, I’ve built up seniority. I have some leadership. I have some friends and I think I have some respect, and I’d hate to give that up.”

Titus passed on a Senate run in 2015, keeping her secure seat in the House. In 2014, she was the only local Democrat to survive Nevada's GOP washout.

“She will be re-elected if she runs for that, and that's one of the factors that she has to calculate,” says UNLV Associate Professor of History Michael Green.

Titus says she’ll decide sometime this summer.

Heller was at the White House on Tuesday, sitting two seats down from a president he never endorsed, getting a White House arm-twisting over the health care bill.

It's Heller in the spotlight – both in Washington and here.

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