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Democrat Rosen Eyeing Heller's Seat

In roughly one year's time, Nevadans will head to the polls to select who will represent them in the US Senate. One of the candidates is first-term Democratic Congresswoman Jacky Rosen of Las Vegas. Our reporter Paul Boger sat down with Representative Rosen why she's running for higher office.

You're a first-term Congresswoman, and I wanted to start off by getting your thoughts on how your first months in office are going and how that compares to the expectations you had going in?

It is so much better than I imagined and -- of course -- so much hard than I imagined. It's better because the people in Washington are passionate [and] intelligent. Everybody that I've been working with is so committed to principles of democracy, whatever side of the aisle they're on. There are about 50 of us freshman, so we've had the chance to do things as a group all together and we've gotten a chance to know each other. Even if we don't always agree on policy, we're all there because we're passionate about our country.

Less than a year, after taking office, you announced you are going to challenge Senator Heller for his seat. Why do that? More specifically, why do that when you're still in your first year as a Congresswoman?

You know, I'm still in my first year as a Congresswoman, but I'm not in my first year of life. First of all, I put myself through college as a waitress. Becoming a woman in technology in the 70's, it was a male-dominated field. I didn't get equal pay for equal work. I had to work as a waitress and computer programmer in the beginning.

I raised a family. My daughter went to public school; she's in college now. So when I talk about the challenges that college kids have -- worrying about finding jobs -- I know what that's like.

I moved to Las Vegas, my parents moved there when I was in college and then my in-laws eventually retired there. Then they all got old and sick at the same time. I quit work to be a caretaker to them. What I can tell you about social security, Medicare, pensions, vouchers, rehab hospitals and the whole aging process. I don't need any papers to talk to me to tell me what that means and what it means to families to have a good retirement and take care of their healthcare needs as they get older.

On education, on healthcare, I volunteered in my community. I've had a full life and I've had a lot of things around the kitchen table that have informed me on how to do this job. That's the most important thing. That's what people want right now, somebody who understands their anxiety at the kitchen table.

And you think Senator Heller's not doing that, or at least not having those same thoughts and feelings?

I think Senator Heller has been around for a very long time, over 25 years in public office, and I don't think he's delivered for the state of Nevada.

Especially in healthcare. He's betrayed Nevadans just most recently voting for the skinny repeal that would take away health insurance for thousands and thousands of Nevadans, spike our premiums, take away pre-existing conditions. That's going to hurt people. It's going to hurt our rurals. He's not listening.

He's not listening in education. He [voted] for Betsy DeVos, who clearly doesn't have our kid’s best interest at heart.

I think the State of Nevada down.

You've already drawn criticism, whether fairly or unfairly, with having close ties with former Senator Harry Reid and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Northern and rural Nevada tend to be far more conservative than Vegas. So how are you planning to present yourself or attract voters in those areas?

I started my career as a computer programmer system's analyst. What that means is that... We've all used some bad software, you get that buffering, buffering, buffering, and things go really slow when they don't work. How you write software is you listen, you look at every side because it all has to work and it all has to mesh together in the same way our communities do.

So I feel like I'm a commonsense person who's going to listen to what people are anxious about and try to find the best ways to move our communities forward.

But how do you think you persuade somebody who may not be willing to have a conversation in Elko or Eureka?

Listening, doing my roundtables, I always ask people this questions, what keeps you up at night?

We have a lot of compelling conversations that inform me. Inform me about how we help veterans. We worked on the Veteran's Choice Act.

Inform me how we might help our schools by working on some of these scholarships.

Inform me about doing medical research. It informed me that nobody wants those pre-existing conditions removed.

So I think if people come and meet me and have those conversations their minds will be changed.

KUNR also reached out to incumbent Senator Dean Heller on several occasions but received no response. You can also hear from Republican candidate Danny Tarkanian here.  

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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