Former Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor

Former Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor
© Greg Nash

Former Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerNevada becomes early Senate battleground Nevada governor Sisolak injured in car accident, released from hospital Democrats brace for tough election year in Nevada MORE (Nev.) will announce Monday he will run for governor of Nevada next year, entering a crowded Republican field ahead of what would be a challenging showdown against first-term Gov. Steve SisolakSteve SisolakMichele Fiore announces campaign for Nevada governor Nevada governor Sisolak injured in car accident, released from hospital Democrats brace for tough election year in Nevada MORE (D).

Heller is likely to become a fast front-runner in a field that so far includes North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee (R) and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo (R).

He plans to announce his campaign in Carson City, a source close to Heller confirmed to The Hill. The Nevada Independent editor Jon Ralston was the first to report Heller would seek to return to public office.

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Heller will rely on veteran Republican strategist Fred Davis to manage his paid advertising campaigns. Gene Ulm, a partner at the prominent Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies, will handle his polling, the source told The Hill.

Heller, 61, has won four statewide elections in Nevada — three as Secretary of State, beginning in 1994, and a full term in the Senate, after he was appointed to fill the seat left vacant by Sen. John Ensign (R), who resigned in a cloud of scandal.

When he won a full term in 2012, Heller was one of only three Republicans across the country — including the secretary of state in Washington and Vermont’s lieutenant governor — to win a statewide election in a state former President Obama carried.

But he could not survive the rising tide of anger directed at former President TrumpDonald TrumpYoungkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled MORE, who twice lost Nevada’s electoral votes. Heller lost reelection by a 5-point margin to Sen. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenProgressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program Nevada becomes early Senate battleground Hillicon Valley — Presented by American Edge Project — Americans blame politicians, social media for spread of misinformation: poll MORE (D-Nev.) in the 2018 midterms, which cost Republicans control of the House of Representatives and nearly the Senate.

Though Nevada has been trending toward Democrats at a national level, Sisolak was the first Democrat to win the governor's office in almost a quarter century. His predecessor, Brian Sandoval (R), now the president of the University of Reno, is a close Heller ally.

Heller’s entry into the race sets up a bizarre possibility that he will once again share the top of the ticket with Adam Laxalt, Nevada’s former Republican attorney general, only on opposite ends of the ballot. In 2018, Laxalt lost to Sisolak by 4 percentage points, at the same time Heller lost his seat to Rosen. This year, Laxalt is challenging Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoSenate Democrats call for diversity among new Federal Reserve Bank presidents Nevada becomes early Senate battleground Harry Reid calls on Democrats to plow forward on immigration MORE (D-Nev.) as Heller seeks the governorship.