Senate GOP campaign arm confirms support for Heller after primary challenge

Senate GOP campaign arm confirms support for Heller after primary challenge
© Greg Nash

Senate Republicans' campaign arm is standing behind Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerBattle of the billionaires drives Nevada contest Trump’s endorsements cement power but come with risks Collins and Murkowski face recess pressure cooker on Supreme Court MORE (R-Nev.) after another Republican announced a primary challenge to Heller on Tuesday.

In a statement, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) said it will continue backing Heller's reelection.

"Time and again, Senator Dean Heller has proven he is unafraid to put Nevadans first," Michael McAdams, a spokesman for the NRSC, said in a statement. "The NRSC fully supports Senator Heller in his primary and general elections, and we are confident he will be re-elected."

The show of support came hours after Republican Danny Tarkanian, a frequent political candidate and the son of legendary Nevada college basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, announced on Fox News that he planned to take on Heller in the state's Republican primary. 

Tarkanian has mounted a number of political campaigns in the past, including another run for the Senate in 2010. Last year, he narrowly lost the House race for Nevada's 3rd congressional district.

Heller is considered the most vulnerable Republican senator up for reelection in 2018. He's the only GOP senator running in a state that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: FBI fires Strzok after anti-Trump tweets | Trump signs defense bill with cyber war policy | Google under scrutiny over location data | Sinclair's troubles may just be beginning | Tech to ease health data access | Netflix CFO to step down Signs grow that Mueller is zeroing in on Roger Stone Omarosa claims president called Trump Jr. a 'f--- up' for releasing Trump Tower emails MORE won in 2016.

Heller also faced criticism from President Trump last month after he came out against a Republican proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He eventually voted for the Senate's"skinny" ObamaCare repeal bill, which ultimately failed in the face of other Senate Republican opposition.

In a statement released shortly after Tarkanian announced his candidacy, Heller's campaign blasted the Las Vegas businessman as a poor candidate and pointing out that he has already lost once to Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), who has announced her own bid against Heller.

"Danny Tarkanian is a perennial candidate who has spent millions of dollars on five campaigns over the last decade," Heller's campaign said.

"Nevada voters have rejected him every time — including less than a year ago against Jacky Rosen. He’s 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."