Tight race for Reid’s seat | RecordCourier.com

Tight race for Reid’s seat

by Geoff Dornan
gdornan@nevadaappeal.com

Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican Joe Heck are facing off in what even national observers say is the one of the tightest U.S. Senate races in the nation.

Pundits say the outcome could well decide which party holds the Senate majority for the coming two years.

Both candidates talked to the Nevada Appeal recently to tell their story and explain why they believe voters should choose them.

Early voting in the Senate as well as all other races on the ballot begins Saturday.

They are not, however, the only candidates in that race. There are, in fact, four other candidates seeking to replace the retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

Tom Jones is the Independent American Party candidate in the race. In addition, Tony Gumina, Tom Sawyer and Jarrod Williams all list themselves as not affiliated with any party.

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Finally, Nevada offers voters a choice unique among the 50 states. They can vote for "None of these Candidates." None has won in a couple of primaries since it was created in the 1972, but never in a General Election. If that option ever wins a General Election, the candidates would undoubtedly be embarrassed but the victory would be awarded to the candidate who got the most votes.

Heck says has been effective in Congress

Rep. Heck, R-Nev., says he has been effective in the House and would bring that same ability to the Senate.

"I've been able to get several pieces of legislation passed for the state of Nevada and signed by a Democratic president," he said.

He said that includes legislation to provide resources for runaways and homeless youth who are prime targets for human trafficking crimes.

Another, he said, transfers an old abandoned mine site in Henderson to the city of Henderson. He said that creates a public private partnership to clean up the site and put the property back on the tax rolls, "at no taxpayer expense."

"And it creates 3,000 good paying jobs," he said.

Heck said he also has pushed legislation to decrease veteran homelessness — a key issue for Heck who is a retired brigadier general — and legislation to boost career and technical education in Nevada.

"Contrary to what the other side thinks, not every child who graduates high school is going to go to college," he said.

He also backed legislation along with the rest of the state's delegation "to ensure Nevada gets a fair share of electric power from Hoover Dam for the next 50 years."

"We've identified issues specific to Nevada and, working in a bipartisan way, got them passed through the House and Senate and signed by the president," Heck said.

A longtime emergency room physician, Heck said he got an education during his six years in the Nevada Senate on the state's rural issues.

"(Sens.) Dean Rhoads, Mike McGinness and Mark Amodei," they gave me a great understanding of the importance of water, public lands and invasive species," Heck said "I know more about cheat grass than I ever thought it would."

He said he is also very keyed in on education issues, his knowledge supported by the fact his undergraduate degree before attending medical school was in education.

"I always thought I was going to be a teacher," he said.

On education, he said the best decisions are made by parents and local teachers and school administrators, not by the federal government.

"Government has a role in education," he said. "We have to make sure they don't overstep their bounds."

Heck served six months in Iraq as an ER doctor and, during that time, was on medical evacuation missions: "I was outside the wire."

If elected to the seat vacated by retiring Reid, heck said he would champion the same issues he has in the House, starting with creating the opportunity for good jobs in Nevada.

But he said he also wants to work on repairing some of the problems with the "fatally flawed" Affordable Care Act.

"I want to make sure people have access to health care, not just health insurance," he said.

Heck has been in the House representing District 3 since 2011.

Masto says she will continue fighting for Nevadans

Cortez Masto says voters should send her to the U.S. Senate because of her proven history of fighting for Nevada and Nevadans.

She said many Nevadans are frustrated with politicians who put party ahead of the people of this state.

"There are still people out there who want to know there's somebody out there willing to work hard," she said. "I'm a fighter and I think we need to start solving problems."

During eight years as Attorney General, she said she fought for small businesses, people who were being exploited, against sex trafficking, took on big banks, supports for increases in the minimum wage, to improve access to health care and create jobs. The result, she said, was 40 bills passed by the Legislature with bipartisan support and signed by the Republican governor.

She has also aired a commercial that includes footage of Sandoval praising her work on a sex trafficking bill.

By contrast, she accused Heck, her opponent, of voting with the tea party nine out of 109 times, everything from defunding Planned Parenthood, against equal pay for equal work, for big corporate tax breaks, unnecessary tax breaks for oil companies and supporting turning public lands over to private ownership.

Masto said in campaigning this season, she has talked to millenials who care about the environment, the exorbitant cost of college debt and social justice.

But Masto said she has a particular objection to the anti immigration rhetoric spawned by presidential nominee Donald Trump.

"My grandfather came from Chihuahua, Mexico for the opportunity to have a good life, food on the table, education for kids," she said adding that her father was just five at the time.

"It's frustrating to have some one like Donald Trump coming to your state and he attacks Mexicans. That's my family he's talking about."

Masto said despite the vitriolic Trump attacks, it took Heck nine months to drop his support for Trump.

Masto said she would continue to fight for the economy and jobs as U.S. Senator.

The economy and jobs, she said, are the priority to focus on.

She said she will do "everything to focus on working families and the middle class." And she said the state should focus on improving public education in Nevada.'

"We should be doing right by our kids," she said adding that she supported Gov. Brian Sandoval's education funding programs.

She said its also important to invest in access to health care and mental health programs, not putting money into a football stadium.

She said she was honored to get the endorsement of police officers statewide saying it was the first time the Fraternal Order of Police, Association of Public Safety Officers and Southern Nevada Conference of Police and Sheriffs came together to support one candidate.

Tonight: The League of Women Voters of Northern Nevada, in partnership with Sierra Nevada Forums, American Association of University Women Capital (NV) Branch, and PFLAG Carson Region, will present a series of election forums on all the statewide ballot issues — Background Check Initiative; Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana; Energy Choice Initiative; Medical Patient Tax Relief Act — at 6 p.m. tonight. The public is invited to attend the three forums at the Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall, 511 West King St. Doors open at 5:30.

Early voting is from Saturday, Oct. 22 through Friday, Nov. 4. Early voting takes place on the first floor of the County Courthouse, 885 East Musser St., Carson City. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. The Nevada Appeal will provide a free live stream of the forums on its website at nevadaappeal.com