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July 6, 2015

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Damon Political Report

Berkley working the North as she explores U.S. Senate bid

Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, D-Las Vegas, made the rounds in Northern Nevada this week, meeting with friends, party activists and others she hopes will support her potential bid for Senate next year.

Many in the party, both North and South, have quietly questioned her ability to make a successful statewide bid, likening her often to former U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, a popular Las Vegas Democrat who lost the 2006 governor’s race to Jim Gibbons.

Berkley bristled during an interview for the To the Point when asked if it’s accurate to compare her to Titus in that regard.

“I don’t think so, obviously,” she said. “As I said, I’m going to take my time and deliberate, talk to people throughout the state and at the end of the process make a decision. The reality is, a number of years ago people didn’t think I would be a good fit for Congress, but I seem to have been not only a good fit, I seem to wear it well. I’m going to see if I can do the same for the state of Nevada.”

But she conceded that she needs to play strongly in rural Nevada and particularly in Washoe County, which has emerged as a key swing county in the state.

A source who met with Berkley this week said the congresswoman is confident she won’t have a primary, breezing past questions of whether Secretary of State Ross Miller, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto or even Las Vegas finance lawyer Byron Georgiou would get into the race.

Berkley is working with U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s estimable pollster Mark Mellman (virtually the only person in the business who accurately gauged last year’s senate race) to “find a path to victory.”

During the To the Point interview, Berkley said her decision is not dependent on whether U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., decides to challenge U.S. Sen. John Ensign in a primary. At this point, Heller is the prohibitive favorite in that match up and has polled well against potential Democrats, including Berkley.

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