Rep. Dean Heller (R)
Elected: 2006, 2nd term.
Born: May 10, 1959, Castro Valley, CA .
Home: Carson City.
Education: U. of S. CA, B.A. 1985.
Family: Married (Lynne); 4 children.
Elected office: NV Assembly, 1990-94, NV sec. of state, 1994-2006.
Professional Career: Stockbroker, 1983-88; Chief deputy state treas., 1988-90; Public funds rep., Bank of America, 1990-95.
The congressman from the 2nd District is Dean Heller, a Republican elected in 2006. Heller was a political fixture in Carson City long before he ran for the House seat, left vacant when five-term Republican Jim Gibbons ran for governor. Heller got his first taste of politics during childhood when his newspaper route included deliveries at the state Capitol. He graduated from the University of Southern California in 1985 with a degree in business administration, then worked as a stockbroker and traded on the Pacific Stock Exchange. In 1990, he won the first of two terms in the Nevada House, and in 1994, he was elected to the first of three terms as Nevada secretary of state. During his 12-year tenure, Heller streamlined the corporation registration process, and revenues increased tenfold. He has supported increased public access to government records and greater transparency in the state campaign finance system. Nevada was seen as a national model in 2004, when it became the first state to create a paper trail for its electronic voting machines.
|Dean Heller (R)||170,771||(52%)||($1,605,810)|
|Jill Derby (D)||136,548||(41%)||($1,131,582)|
|John Everhart (AMI)||11,179||(3%)|
|Dean Heller (R)||43,112||(86%)|
|James Smack (R)||7,009||(14%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (50%)
Heller faced competition for the Republican nomination from Assemblywoman Sharron Angle and former Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons, the outgoing congressman’s wife. Heller and Gibbons began with the strongest name recognition, but Gibbons’ candidacy was underfunded and never took off. Angle, a Christian conservative, emerged as a serious primary rival after she picked up the endorsement and financial support of the deep-pocketed Club for Growth, a national anti-tax group. Angle ran as the race’s true conservative, while Heller campaigned on his record in state office and called for cuts in taxes and government spending. Heller won 36% of the vote, giving him a 421-vote victory over Angle, who got 35%. Gibbons finished third with 25%. Rather than request a recount, Angle filed a lawsuit seeking a new election because some polling locations in Washoe County had opened late. A judge denied her request, and she conceded two weeks after the primary.
Heller entered the general election campaign with a depleted campaign treasury to face Democrat Jill Derby, an 18-year veteran of the Nevada Board of Regents. He ran the race as a referendum on President Bush and his policies, emphasizing his support for the Iraq war, for making Bush’s tax cuts permanent and for creating private Social Security accounts for younger workers. While many Republican candidates elsewhere considered Bush a liability in 2006, the president stumped twice for Heller in the final weeks of the campaign. Bush’s stops helped Heller rebuild his campaign reserves and motivate the traditionally Republican-leaning rural vote. Derby emphasized her rural roots, criticized Heller for his stance on the war and framed the election as a chance for voters to reject Republican control in Washington. In October, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee mounted a late attack on Heller, insinuating that federal drug investigators in 2005 had seized Heller’s race car (he is a stock car racing enthusiast) in connection with a drug case involving Heller’s friend Eddie Floyd, a former Reno talk-show host who was a convicted sex offender. Heller said he did not own the car, but had been helping Floyd’s son build it. The controversy wasn’t enough to overcome the district’s wide Republican voter-registration advantage. Heller defeated Derby 50%-45%.
In the House, Heller broke with conservatives on issues such as federal funding for embryonic-stem-cell research and the September 11 commission recommendations, and he got a seat on the Financial Services Committee. He supported nuclear energy on the condition that the radioactive waste would be stored where it is produced, not at Yucca Mountain. Heller also got into an unusual family squabble when he criticized the limited impact of the Republican takeover of the House led by Republican Newt Gingrich in 1994. “They came to Washington, and Washington changed them,” he said, adding that he thought it was time for Republicans to clean house. This district has not elected a Democrat since it was created after the 1980 census. That didn’t stop Derby and the Democrats from trying again in 2008. But Heller took a comfortable lead in early polls and won the rematch, 52% to 41%.