Vulnerable GOP senator faces rancorous town hall

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) met with constituents for two hours at a combative town hall on Monday, making him the latest GOP senator to face backlash in his home state.  

Heller — who is up for reelection in 2018 in a race the Cook Political Report says “leans Republican” — teamed up with fellow Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei to hold the event, fielding questions on Planned Parenthood, the Environmental Protection Agency and immigration. 
Constituents repeatedly accused Heller of dodging their questions. Several audience members chanted “answer the question,” after a woman asked Heller about his position on Merrick Garland, former President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. 
Another woman told the GOP senator later in the town hall that that he gave “fuzzy answers.” 
{mosads}Heller also faced questions about his willingness to stand up to President Trump, with one questioner at the town hall calling him a “rubber stamp” for the administration. 
“When I think Trump is right, I’ll support him. When I don’t, I won’t and I will certainly try to change his mind on some of these issues,” Heller said. 
He added that he is leading his caucus on alternative energy and standing up to the White House on Yucca Mountain. 
“Let me be clear, the only person standing between this administration and Yucca Mountain being dumped in our backyard is me,” he said. “Yucca Mountain is dead.” 
Trump’s budget proposes spending $120 million at the Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart the planning process for a nuclear waste repository.
Heller is considered the most vulnerable GOP senator up for reelection in 2018, during a year in which the map that is otherwise favorable to Senate Republicans. Democrats are defending 25 seats in 2018, while Republicans will only need to protect nine. 
One questioner warned Heller that he needs to represent the entire state, not just his GOP supporters.  
“You don’t really represent me anymore,” she said. “You need to start listening to the concerns of your constituents, and I think you lost that.” 
Another questioned if Heller and Amodei were “examples of moral integrity,” suggesting they needed to buck Trump. 
“How many women or even some men who have been sexually abused have to look at the ugly face of a sexual predator in the White House?” she asked.
Heller touted his willingness work with Democrats, saying “there is nobody back in Washington, D.C., that works more with the other side.” 
Heller was ranked the ninth most bipartisan senator in 2015 by Georgetown’s The Lugar Center – McCourt School Bipartisan Index. 
Audience members appeared to mellow toward Heller during the second hour of the event, applauding his support for comprehensive immigration reform. 
Heller thanked constituents as they wrapped up the event, saying they had been “very respectful.” 
Tags Dean Heller Mark Amodei
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