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Sandoval Touts Heller’s “Accomplishments”, But Just How “Bipartisan” Is Heller’s Record?

This morning, U.S. Senator Dean Heller’s (R) reelection campaign released a new TV ad featuring none other than Governor Brian Sandoval (R). In the ad, Sandoval touts Heller’s “bipartisan” street cred as he declares, “Anyone who tells you something different is wrong.”

Well, I’m here to tell you something different. And contrary to what Sandoval claims, I have the receipts to prove that I’m not wrong.

What is Governor Sandoval talking about?

In the TV ad, Sandoval uses Heller’s support for the 2012 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and his work on military veterans’ issues as proof that Heller is so “bipartisan”. Indeed, Heller was one of 15 Senate Republicans who voted for VAWA reauthorization in April 2012, and he voted for it again in 2013 (after House Republicans killed VAWA the year prior).

Late last month, Heller did vote for a temporary VAWA extension through December 7, as Republican leaders agreed to this limited extension in the “Minibus” continuing resolution to keep the federal government open and fully funded through that date. (The “Minibus” also included $86.5 billion in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs.) While Heller appeared with President Donald Trump when he signed the “Minibus” into law here in Southern Nevada last month, Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) and all the rest of Nevada’s Congressional delegation also voted for it.

While Rosen has joined other Democrats in cosponsoring a longer-term VAWA reauthorization, Heller has yet to commit to supporting a longer-term bill. And of course, Heller has more recently been under fire for referring to the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a “hiccup”. Though Heller has since tried to clarify that statement, he has nonetheless continued to support Kavanaugh despite the accusers and witnesses who continue to challenge Kavanaugh’s dismissal of their claims.

What is Sandoval not talking about (in this ad)?
Photo by Andrew Davey

As I was watching the Sandoval ad, I also noticed topics he didn’t address while promoting Heller’s “bipartisan” record. One of those topics is health care, as Sandoval has consistently opposed Heller’s ongoing efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare). Even after Sandoval condemned last year’s Trumpcare bills, Heller voted for “skinny repeal” in July 2017 and co-sponsored Graham-Cassidy in September 2017. And this past August, Sandoval and his administration criticized Heller’s “pre-existing conditions” bill.

Another missing topic: immigration. Sandoval has been fairly consistent in his support for comprehensive immigration reform and humane immigration policies. Though Heller did vote for comprehensive immigration reform in June 2013, he has since embraced Trump’s nativist platform, and and at most has occasionally expressed mild angst over Trump’s xenophobic policies. Even as migrant children are still being incarcerated in tent camps and working-class immigrant families are about be penalized for living here with the White House’s new “public charge” rule, Heller continues to stand with Trump.

Another missing topic: gun violence. Here, Sandoval and Heller still tend to agree… Against the opinion of most voters when it comes to expanding background checks and restricting access to military-grade assault weapons. Heller voted against a bipartisan background checks bill in 2013, and Sandoval has joined Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) in refusing to enforce the background checks law that Nevada voters narrowly approved in 2016. And to this day, Heller continues to enjoy a friendly relationship with the NRA while Nevadans continue to grapple with our post-1 October reality on gun violence.

The bottom line: Sandoval’s talking points may have some truth in them, but they don’t tell the whole story on Heller’s (lack of) “bipartisanship”.
Photo by Andrew Davey

To be fair, I may have just been scratching the surface when it comes to Senator Heller’s “bipartisan” record. For all his “bipartisan” talk, Heller has voted with Trump about 92% of the time for the past 20 months. In contrast, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto [D] has voted with Trump about 34% of the time and Rep. Jacky Rosen has voted with Trump about 42% of the time. And when it comes to matters like health care and Trump’s immigration agenda, Heller has often stuck with other pro-Trump Republicans while a handful of more moderate Republicans have sided with Democrats in voting against such legislation.

Remember how Sandoval declares, “Anyone who tells you something different is wrong”? I just provided the receipts, and I’ll let you decide who’s actually wrong when it comes to Heller’s record in Congress.

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Comments (3)

  1. Chandler In Las Vegas

    Andrew, do you have an analysis on WHY Sandoval would do this? What are Sandoval’s next political moves? Do you think that they could ram through a Federal Judgeship during the lame duck session? Would CCM blue slip him? The mind races.

    • For quite some time, I’ve doubted Sandoval will run for another elected office any time soon. I’m sticking with that hunch today.

      The judiciary scenario seems more likely, though I even doubt that may be the case here. Perhaps this helps Sandoval mend some broken fences in the Nevada Republican Party, but the bridges between his camp and the White House still look awfully burnt. And considering Dean Heller’s lack of juice of Trump World (cough- Yucca Mountain -cough), I have a hard time imagining Heller successfully convincing Trump to nominate a “Never Trump RINO” for any judicial seat.

      Using Occam’s Razor, I sense this probably has to do with Sandoval’s personal loyalty to Heller and their shared Northern Nevada Republican establishment inner circle. Maybe I’m wrong here, or maybe Sandoval is simply sticking to his long-time MO.

  2. Sandoval’s support for Heller disappoints me. Heller has openly voted AGAINST the wishes and interests of the majority of his constituents while Sandoval has been much more in touch with the wants and needs of all Nevadans. Sandoval has tasted power and will be back in the political arena and his support for anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-healthcare for Nevadans Heller will damage his bipartisan cred.

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