Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., is a vice-chairman of the National Republican Senate Committee.
Part of his duties with the NRSC is finding the best Republican candidate he can to run against Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Las Vegas in the 2016 election cycle.
Reid and Heller work together on many bills for Nevada but in politics, they are commanders in opposing armies.
“It’s all business,” Heller said.
When asked if the NRSC thinks Gov. Brian Sandoval would be the candidate with the best chance of beating Reid, Heller said:
“He is our ‘A-plus’ candidate, let me say that. He is our ‘A-plus’ candidate.
“It doesn’t mean we don’t have ‘A’ candidates and ‘B’ candidates out there,” Heller said. “But there is no doubt, Gov. Sandoval is our ‘A-plus’ candidate.”
Heller’s comments came during a taping of the Nevada Newsmakers TV program on Thursday.
The interview with Heller, which takes up the entire show, is scheduled to be shown Monday at 11:30 a.m. on KRNV-News 4.
Heller was all in with Sandoval running against Reid.
“Whether or not he decides to run, obviously, at the end of the day, that is up to him,” Heller said. “But boy, I’d love to see him run and truly believe that he would be the premier candidate.”
Heller said GOP groups are actively recruiting Sandoval to run. Sandoval has swatted away any speculation from the media about running against Reid, often saying things like, “I am focused on my job” and “I enjoy being governor.”
Said Heller: “Oh, I have no doubt that there are groups out there trying to sit down with him (Sandoval) to convince him that this would be a good move – from (U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell himself to every other group.”
Heller mentioned three other possibilities for run against Reid, including current state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, former Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki and in somewhat of a surprise — former Assembly Minority Leader and Sandoval’s former Chief of Staff, Heidi Gansert of Reno.
“There are a number of candidates that are expressing interest,” Heller said. “Heidi Gansert is another one who I believe is an ‘A’ candidate. We’ll see if former Lt. Gov. Krolicki wants to run. We are not at a loss for candidates. We have a great bench on our (GOP) side, compared to what the Democrats have here today in the state of Nevada.”
Heller talked at length about Roberson. I asked Roberson about running for the U.S. Senate last week, prior to the Heller interview, and he said, “I am focused on the present. I am focused on the job that I’m tasked with right now.”
Heller, however, said Roberson is interested.
“He is another good candidate,” Heller said about Roberson. “I may get a chance to talk to him in a few weeks. I know he has an interest. He wants to get through this Legislature first and I understand that because there are a lot of ups and downs that are going to happen in the next 100 days.”
Yet Roberson would be second-fiddle if the choice was between him or Sandoval, Heller seemed to say.
“But needless to say, I think he (Roberson) is an ‘A’ candidate,” Heller said. “And I think Roberson would agree with me that the governor is the ‘A-plus’ candidate.”
APPARENTLY THERE IS little outrage about Nevada’s 1st U.S. House District Rep. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, wanting to move the Veterans Administration’s Regional Office from Reno to Las Vegas.
Titus said in a letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald that an office in Las Vegas would stand a better chance of recruiting the VA’s most talented workers and administrators that are needed to boost the performance of the under-achieving regional office if it were moved to Las Vegas.
“First of all, I really don’t care,” Heller said. “I’m agnostic to where this office is. I want a good office and it (Reno office) is one of the worst performing – if not the worst-performing regional office – in the country.
“If we can fix the backlog (of health-related claims) and if fixing the backlog means that we have to move that office from Reno to Las Vegas, it really doesn’t matter to me,” Heller said. “I just want a regional office that works for veterans here in this state.’
Heller then noted a glaring truth about where most of Nevada’s 300,000 vets live.
“Let’s not kid ourselves,” Heller said. “Most of the veterans we have in this state are in Las Vegas.”
SANDOVAL’S A HISTORY BUFF, so he’ll like this:
The great-grandfather of Assemblywoman Robin Titus, R-Yerington, and Nevada’s first elected governor, Henry G. Blasdel, were partners in a mining venture back in the day.
Blasdel later gave Titus’ great-grandfather his inkwell and pen. It’s now a family heirloom. If Titus’ bill to make the square dance the official state dance of Nevada passes the Legislature, Titus would like something added to the signing ceremony.
“If this (square-dance bill) comes to fruition, I’m going to ask Gov. Sandoval to sign this bill with Gov. Blasdel’s ink pen,” Titus said.
EWAN GREGORY, 94, might be the oldest person I’ve interviewed at the Legislature. She was in Carson City Wednesday as a square-dancer in support of the square dancing bill.
She has the pick of field of gentlemen dancers when she’s out dancing.
“I don’t have a partner but I have my share of dancing,” Gregory said.
Another one of the square dancers in the building that day was Joye Angle-Kincade, daughter of former Assemblywoman and GOP U.S. Senate nominee Sharron Angle.