CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada Rep. Jacky Rosen said Wednesday she will seek the Democratic nomination to take on incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller in the 2018 election.
Democrats aiming to upset the GOP’s Senate majority consider Heller’s seat the most vulnerable in 2018.
Rosen said in an email to The Associated Press that she is planning to run for the seat and her official announcement would come soon.
A political outsider until last year, Rosen worked as a computer programmer, software designer and president of a Henderson synagogue until narrowly winning the House seat in 2016.
Rosen represents the southernmost tip of Nevada, including parts of Las Vegas. Like the rest of the state, the district is politically divided and has recently seen close races.
Voters have preferred Democrats in the past three presidential elections and population increases in the urban Las Vegas area are largely benefiting Democrats.
A Republican proposal to overhaul the federal health care laws — and whether Heller supports it — is already weighing heavily on the race. Rosen has opposed the effort.
GOP officials criticized Rosen on Wednesday for her brief political experience and support from former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid.
State GOP Chairman Michael McDonald and Executive Director Greg Bailor called Rosen’s Senate bid an untrustworthy, self-serving and ambitious jump.
Nevada Democratic Party spokesman Stewart Boss shot back that Heller, who has held state or federal elected offices since 1990, “is the definition of a self-serving career politician.”
“Dean Heller’s cronies at the Nevada GOP are desperately trying to distract from a weak, spineless incumbent whose extreme voting record has failed our state,” Boss said in an emailed statement.
Heller told Politico on Tuesday that he will vote for a secretive GOP health care bill and risk his seat, if the policy changes are good for Nevada. He could not yet say if they would be.
Rosen has opposed the effort by Republicans.
Last month, Rosen said it was shameful that House Republicans passed a health care bill before seeing a revised budget report on its impacts. Congressional analysts found that bill would kick about 23 million Americans off health insurance.
A lack of political experience has not hindered Republicans from holding Senate seats.
Before winning office, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson ran a plastics manufacturing company. Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton was a soldier, decorated after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He served one term in the House before moving up to the Senate.