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Ex-Sen. Dean Heller announces run for Nevada governor

Former Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said Monday he will run for governor in Nevada next year, reentering politics three years after he lost his seat in a Democratic wave.

In a video posted Monday, Heller cast himself as a conservative opposed to mask mandates, defunding the police and lockdowns in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

"After serving Nevada in the Senate, I thought I was done with politics," Heller says. "But look what's happened to Nevada. We have a governor more interested in putting us out of work than putting us back to work. Las Vegas became a sanctuary city. Violent crime's exploding. People who work for a living are scared. And I've had it."

The video includes a photo of Heller and former President Trump aboard Air Force One, and touts his experience as Nevada's secretary of State, before he won a seat in Congress.

Heller won an appointment to fill a Senate seat left vacant by former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), who resigned in the midst of scandal. Heller lost reelection in 2018, a victim of voter backlash against Trump.

In that race, he painted himself as a centrist capable of working across the aisle. In this contest, Heller takes a more conservative line as he prepares for a Republican primary ahead of a matchup against Gov. Steve Sisolak (D).

"I'm sick of seeing abortion clinics open while churches and schools are closed. My grandkids playing soccer in masks. That's all on Gov. Sisolak," Heller says in the video. "I'm running for governor because Nevada deserves a whole lot better than this guy."

Heller plans to make a formal announcement of his candidacy later Monday in Carson City, his home town. He will not face a clear path in the Republican primary; North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee (R) and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo (R) are the most prominent of six Republicans who have already entered the race.

Nevada has trended Democratic in recent years, though the state has a long history of electing Republican governors - Sisolak is the first Democrat to hold the seat since Bob Miller left office in 1999. Sisolak won election in 2018 over former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) by a slim 4-point margin, or about 40,000 votes out of 900,000 cast.

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