The results of the race for Nevada’s open U.S. Senate seat will reach beyond the state itself. That’s why many big names in politics are traveling to the Silver State to campaign on the behalf of candidates Dean Heller and Jacky Rosen. KUNR’s Bree Zender explains.
“I’m here today to help elect Jacky to be the next United States senator for the great state of Nevada,” said Vermont senator and former 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
He spoke last week at the University of Nevada, Reno, stumping for Jacky Rosen. Democrats, specifically, have been campaigning hard on the campus. Sanders and Rosen both focused on issues that directly impact not just students in Nevada, but all students, like the affordability of tuition and health care.
“I grew up in a working class family. I waited tables during college,” Rosen said. “And I was the first one in my family to graduate from college. And my experiences and my values have helped shape my time in congress. And no family in this country should have to choose between taking their child to the doctor ever.”
Along with touting her life and political experience, Rosen also blasted remarks Senator Heller made to President Donald Trump during a campaign event in Elko earlier this month.
“Senator Heller told President Trump, 'I think everything you touch turns to gold.' That doesn't sound like a senator to me,” Rosen said. “That sounds like someone who thinks his number one job is pleasing and praising Donald Trump."
Attendees at the Rosen rally were a mix of students and community members, mostly from Reno. Many of the students, like biomedical engineering sophomore Alea Martin, have come of age since the 2016 election, and are casting their ballots for the first time for Rosen.
“She’s a great woman, I believe. She’s got a background in STEM, like I do,” Martin said. “And she does fall in line with the things I believe like not defunding Planned Parenthood and supporting immigration.”
Outside of Reno and heading south to Carson City, another big name, Vice President Mike Pence, campaigned over the weekend for Republicans facing elections in November: incumbent senate candidate Dean Heller and gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt.
“If Senator Heller and Adam Laxalt were unopposed, I’d still be here in Nevada,” Pence said. “And Nevada, you’re facing a choice. It’s a choice between tax cuts and tax hikes. It’s a choice between stronger borders and open borders.”
Heller and most of the speakers at the Pence event criticized Jacky Rosen for only agreeing to a public debate in Las Vegas.
“If you live outside of Las Vegas, you don’t matter to [Rosen],” Heller said. “You don’t matter if you’re a Republican. You don’t matter if you’re a Democrat. You don’t matter if you’re an Independent. All she cares about is Southern Nevada.”
Jerry Frey from Fallon was among those in the sea of ‘Make America Great Again’ hats and cowboy hats who travelled to see the vice president. Frey has identified as a Republican since he could vote, but has also voted for Democrats in the past.
For him, it was disappointing that Rosen declined to debate Heller in Northern Nevada and it means a lot to him that the vice president came to Carson.
“And it means they’re paying attention because they know there’s votes here and there’s votes to be had here because there’s open minds here,” Frey said. “I’ve spent more time watching CNN, MSNBC this week than I’m sure any of my friends have. But I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the way I believe also.”
The decision that Nevadans need to make on November 6 is a defining moment for what’s to come for the state. But beyond Carson City, Elko, Las Vegas and Reno, Nevadans carry the weight of the entire country with this vote.