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MEMO: Congressman Heck: Can he really sell to all of Nevada?

To: Interested Parties
From: Zach Hudson, Communications Director, Nevada State Democratic Party
Subject: MEMO: Congressman Heck:  Can he really sell to all of Nevada?
Date: Monday, July 6, 2015

As Congressman Heck announces his campaign for United States Senate today, here are a few important facts you probably won’t hear from the Washington Republicans who are spinning Heck’s candidacy as the best thing since Yucca Mountain.

Running for statewide office in Nevada – in a year with presidential-level voter turnout, no less – is very different than running in Heck’s home district, or any congressional district for that matter.  The reality is: Congressman Heck’s voting record will face a level of scrutiny he has never experienced before.  In each of the last three election cycles where Heck ran for Congress, either a Presidential, Senate, or other statewide race overshadowed the campaigns for CD3.  Subsequently, Congressman Heck has been able to get by without being held accountable for his voting record — a luxury he will not have in a race for the U.S. Senate.

Even in his home district, Congressman Heck has previously underperformed statewide candidates on the ballot in the district, including Catherine Cortez Masto.  In 2010, the last time Congressman Heck and Catherine Cortez Masto were on the ballot together, Cortez Masto outperformed Heck by over 10,000 votes in his home district.  This was not only in a midterm election where Republicans already had an inherent turnout advantage in Nevada they do not enjoy in Presidential cycles, but in a Tea Party-fueled Republican wave year as well.

Furthermore, a statewide electorate in Nevada in a presidential year is dramatically different demographically speaking than what Congressman Heck has grown accustomed to in his home district.  Congressman Heck has never represented Washoe County or Northern Nevada as a whole.  He also has not represented two-thirds of the voters residing in Southern Nevada.

But lest we puncture the bubble of hope Washington Republicans are relying on because of Heck’s victories in his home district — here are a few facts about the differences between CD3 and the Nevada electorate as a whole:

  • Hispanic population in 2012 statewide vs. CD3: 26.5% vs 15.7%
  • African American voters in 2012 statewide vs. CD3: 7.7% vs 6.1%

The reality is: in Nevada, a statewide race for Senate in a cycle with presidential-level turnout gives Democrats a significant turnout advantage over Republicans. To get a glimpse of the disparities between turnout in a presidential cycle in Nevada vs. a midterm, consider this:

  • In the presidential cycle of 2012, Democratic-leaning Clark County made up 68% of the total statewide share of voter turnout; in the midterm cycle of 2014, turnout in Clark County fell to 61.80 %, a difference of 6.29%.

In a year with presidential turnout, the greater share of the statewide vote from Clark County makes Congressman Heck’s path to victory significantly steeper.

These numbers, along with Heck’s voting record, demonstrate that this race will be much tougher for Congressman Heck than Washington Republicans will have you believe.   The truth is — Congressman Heck has a voting record clearly demonstrating he is not on the side of Nevada families from across the state:

  • Middle class families: Congressman Heck opposes increasing the minimum wage.  He has voted against cutting taxes for the middle class while voting to protect tax breaks for corporations that ship American jobs overseas.  While opposing giving working families a raise, Heck has consistently voted to protect perks for politicians, including allowing members of Congress to travel on private jets or in first class travel on the taxpayers’ dime.
  • Young voters: Heck has voted to cut Pell grants, education funding, and advocated to eliminate the Department of Education.
  • Seniors: Heck has supported budget proposals to turn Medicare over to private insurance companies and not only called Social Security a “pyramid scheme,” but supports privatizing it.
  • Women: Heck has voted against equal pay for equal work, voted to criminalize abortion even in cases of rape or incest, and voted multiple times to restrict women’s access to preventative healthcare.
  • Latino voters: Heck has voted to tear families apart and opposed a bipartisan immigration reform compromise that secured the borders and would have helped millions of undocumented immigrants come out of the shadows and earn a path to citizenship.

Final summary: Washington Republicans will have you believe Congressman Heck is a golden ticket to the GOP retaking this U.S. Senate seat in Nevada.  The facts, the statewide demographics in a Presidential turnout level cycle compared to CD3 or a midterm, and Congressman Heck’s voting record, speak otherwise.  Given all this, our final message to Washington Republicans regarding Congressman Heck is this: buyer beware.