Danny Tarkanian announced that he will challenge Senator Dean Heller in Nevada’s Republican primary during “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday, according to Politico.
“So many people have contacted me in the past few months, saying, ‘You got to run against Dean Heller,’” said Tarkanian on the morning news program. “They understand, like I do, that we’re never going to make America great again unless we have senators in office supporting President Trump. Dean Heller wasn’t just one of the first Never-Trumpers in the state of Nevada, he was one of the most influential. He actually helped Hillary Clinton win the state of Nevada.”
On the show, he cited Heller’s lack of support in President Donald Trump as his inspiration for mounting a primary challenge, pointing to Heller’s record on the Senate Republican effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
Heller, who has served in the Senate since 2011, is considered one of the most vulnerable Republican senators in the country up for reelection during the 2018 midterms as the only Republican holding a seat in Nevada, which went blue in the presidential election last year.
Tarkanian started criticizing Heller as a “Never-Trumper” earlier this year when he came out in opposition to the initial Senate Republican health care bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He later voted for the “skinny repeal” proposal.
According to Business Insider, Tarkanian has made numerous unsuccessful runs for office in the state of Nevada. He lost the Nevada secretary of state bid in 2006, U.S. Senate in 2012, and Nevada’s 4th Congressional District seat in 2012. Most recently, Tarkanian lost the 3rd Congressional District seat to Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen by no more than two percentage points in the 2016 election cycle.
Heller’s campaign used Tarkanian’s largely unsuccessful track record as ammunition against him in a statement.
“Danny Tarkanian is a perennial candidate who has spent millions of dollars on five campaigns over the last decade,” said Heller spokesman Tommy Ferraro. “Nevada voters have rejected him every time—including less than a year ago against Jacky Rosen. He has wasted conservatives’ time and cost the Republican Party seats up and down the ballot. If he ultimately files for U.S. Senate, he will lose in the primary.”
Despite his lack of prior success, Tarkanian is well-known in the state, both for his previous campaigns and his father’s legacy as a basketball coach at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and has won several primaries in recent years. Heller will also face quite a challenge from Rosen, who is likely to be the Democratic candidate for his seat in the midterms.
Tarkanian will likely face resistance from Republican congressional leadership, reports Business Insider, as a super PAC associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to back Heller.