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July 5, 2015

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Heller to skip GOP convention unless he gets prime time speaking slot

Dean Heller

Dean Heller

The GOP needs Sen. Dean Heller to win in Nevada this November. But if they want him to show up to their quadrennial convention, they better make it worth his while.

“If Dean Heller is offered a prime time speaking role, he’ll be there,” Heller campaign manager Mac Abrams said when asked whether Heller would be attending the Republican National Convention. “If not, he has a campaign to run.”

Speaker schedules are still a long way from being finalized, according to an RNC official contacted Tuesday evening, who wouldn’t confirm whether or not the party was talking to Heller for a speaking role, prime time or other.

But with all the Republican glitterati champing at the podium -- there’s the field of presidential candidates and vice presidential prospects, not to mention the crop of new GOP governors that won in 2010 -- prime time space comes at a premium that’s likely above Heller’s pay grade.

Heller, who took over Sen. John Ensign’s seat last year after he resigned, is the newest freshman member of the Senate. That said, he’s also in one of the closest Senate races in the country. Nevada is one of about eight toss-up seats that could go either Democrat or Republican, and recent polls show Heller with only the slimmest of leads over his opponent, Rep. Shelley Berkley.

Berkley is planning on attending the Democratic National Convention as an elected delegate, according to a spokesman for her campaign.

Heller is not the only Republican Senate candidate skipping the convention: Earlier today Virginia’s George Allen announced he’d be eschewing the party convention to focus on his campaign, joining New Mexico’s Heather Wilson and Hawaii’s Linda Lingle, who have also opted out.

Nevada’s elected Republicans also are in a touchy spot after Ron Paul loyalists flooded the state convention and captured the majority of national delegate spots. Most of Nevada’s top elected Republicans steered clear of the state convention, and have distanced themselves from the state party.

Unlike Nevada Democrats, who are sending a handful of elected officials to their national convention in Charlotte, Nevada Republicans named no elected officials as national delegates.

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