Trapped in a brutal Republican primary with a pro-Trump challenger, Senator Dean Heller went on conservative talk radio today with right-wing host Kevin Wall and tried to walk back his previously unequivocal support for unpopular Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
After Heller voted for the Republican health care agenda this summer, McConnell’s Super PAC rewarded him by promising to spend millions in 2018 to protect the cycle’s most vulnerable Senator. As recently as August, Heller was a vocal McConnell supporter and ally – but then Danny Tarkanian signed a pledge in October promising to oppose McConnell as the Republican Leader and has repeatedly challenged Heller to do the same. With recent public polls showing Heller losing to Tarkanian, it’s not surprising that Heller is now trying to flip-flop and change his tune on McConnell.
TRANSCRIPT (LISTEN HERE)
Kevin Wall: “But I want to ask you – Danny Tarkanian says if he get to the Senate, he will vote, one of his first votes will be to kick Mitch McConnell out his leadership position.”
Wall: “How will you vote for the leadership position if you are returned to the Senate?”
Heller: “Well, first of all, let’s make it very clear that Danny Tarkanian will never be a United States Senator. That will never happen. He can’t win. He’s a phony and he’s a fake. And we’ve already been through the Roy Moore, um, process here in the state of Nevada and that’s how we re-elected Harry Reid. I don’t think that conservatives in Nevada want another Roy Moore moment, and that’s all that they would get with Danny Tarkanian. So whatever he says I discount, but I will tell you this when it comes to leadership in the United States Senate. I will always vote for that leader that does, that I believe will be best for the state of Nevada. Whoever that may be at this point, I don’t know. But I will always vote for leadership that’s best for the state of Nevada.”
Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Sarah Abel released the following statement on Heller’s wavering on Mitch McConnell:
“Senator Heller’s political calculation to suddenly distance himself from Mitch McConnell’s failed leadership should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched this dishonest politician change positions to suit his audience throughout his career in Washington. He can try to run away from his party’s toxic leadership all he wants, but Nevadans won’t forget that Heller helped elect McConnell as Majority Leader and has been voting for McConnell’s agenda 90 percent of the time this year.”
IN OCTOBER, HELLER’S CAMPAIGN ACCUSED TARKANIAN OF FLIP-FLOPPING ON MITCH MCCONNELL.
Headline: “Heller Campaign Says Tark Flip-Flopped On McConnell.” “Senator Dean Heller’s office is calling out primary challenger Danny Tarkanian for his flip flop on Majority leader Mitch McConnell. Tarkanian recently declared he would vote against keeping McConnell as leader, but just a couple of months ago declared, ‘I plan on supporting, I don’t have anything against Majority leader McConnell.’ Heller campaign spokesman Keith Schipper says Tarkanian will say whatever the audience wants to hear.” [KOH, 10/24/17]
Heller’s Senate Campaign Release Attacked Tarkanian For Lying About His Past Support For Mitch McConnell. “Earlier today, while on Kevin Wall Radio, Danny Tarkanian said, ‘I was asked about a month or two ago if I would support Mitch McConnell and I said, ‘Look it, I’m in the middle of a race, I’m not going to get in to those type of things. I’ll wait until I get elected and make my decision.’’ This is a blatant lie. ‘I plan on supporting [Mitch McConnell]…I don’t have anything against Majority Leader McConnell,’ Tarkanian told Buzzfeed’s Alexis Levinson on August 10. You can read the entire quote here. ‘Danny Tarkanian continues to show why he will never win an election,’ Heller campaign spokesman Keith Schipper said. ‘He is a failure and a fraud who will say whatever the audience wants to hear. You can’t trust a word he says.’” [Heller For Senate, Release, 10/24/17]
BUT TODAY, HELLER DID THE SAME THING.
August 2017: Dean Heller On Twitter: “I Look Forward To @Senatemajldr’s Leadership As We Work To Reduce Americans’ Taxes.” “@DeanHeller: I look forward to @SenateMajLdr’s leadership as we work to reduce Americans’ taxes.” [Twitter, @DeanHeller, 8/10/17]
When Asked If He Would Support Mitch McConnell As Majority Leader Heller Said, “I Will Always Vote For That Leader That I Believe Will Be Best For The State Of Nevada. Whoever That May Be At This Point. I Don’t Know. But I Will Always Vote For Leadership That’s Best For The State Of Nevada.” “Wall: ‘How will you vote for the leadership position if you are returned to the Senate?’ Heller: ‘Well, first of all, let’s make it very clear that Danny Tarkanian will never be a United States Senator. That will never happen. He can’t win. He’s a phony and he’s a fake. And we’ve already been through the Roy Moore, um, process here in the state of Nevada and that’s how we re-elected Harry Reid. I don’t think that conservatives in Nevada want another Roy Moore moment, and that’s all that they would get with Danny Tarkanian. So whatever he says I discount, but I will tell you this when it comes to leadership in the United States Senate. I will always vote for that leader that does, that I believe will be best for the state of Nevada. Whoever that may be at this point, I don’t know. But I will always vote for leadership that’s best for the state of Nevada.’” [Dean Heller, Kevin Wall Radio, 12/21/17] (AUDIO)
REMEMBER: DEAN HELLER VOTED TO ELECT MCCONNELL AS SENATE MAJORITY LEADER IN 2014.
McConnell Was Unanimously Elected Majority Leader In 2014. “Senate Republicans have unanimously elected Mitch McConnell to be majority leader. There was little drama heading into the vote, as no one had emerged to challenge the Kentucky Republican after the party’s triumph in last week’s midterm elections. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire nominated McConnell, according to a GOP source inside the room, and Sen.-elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas gave a seconding speech. He won a voice vote without opposition and was treated to a standing ovation.” [Roll Call, 11/13/14]
- Heller Was Present For The 2014 Republican Conference, Because He Was Defeated By Senator Roger Wicker In The Race To Lead The NRSC. “Senate Republicans unanimously named Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to serve as majority leader when the new Congress convenes in January. […] Senate Republicans also elected Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi to chair their 2016 campaign operation. Wicker defeated Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada.” [USA Today, 11/13/14]