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November 27, 2014

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Bilbray losing ground? Group says Heck ‘in an enviable position’

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Sun Staff

Republican Joe Heck and Democrat Erin Bilbray are bidding for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District seat in the 2014 November general election.

Updated Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 | 6:40 p.m.

One week after getting a shout out from Vice President Joe Biden and other Democratic stars, congressional candidate Erin Bilbray isn’t having the kind of success her campaign had hoped for.

The Democrat is running for a seat to represent Henderson and Boulder City that pundits say leans Republican. Some national-level operatives in her party are quietly expressing frustration about her campaign, according to a nonpartisan political rating newsletter, The Cook Report.

The Cook Report is the second national rating system this month to give Rep. Joe Heck, a two-term Republican incumbent, the edge in the race. They cite Bilbray’s fundraising (Heck has about $1 million more than her in the bank) and campaign organization.

Bilbray's campaign manager, Erica Prosser, said in an email the campaign actually had "very good" fundraising these past few weeks thanks to the high-profile visits and more than doubled their deadline financial goal in the past few days. As for the Cook Report rating, Prosser said: "We are focused on what the voters and residents of Nevada's 3rd Congressional District are saying, not Washington pundits​."

Bilbray, a Democratic adviser and community activist, is trying to shore up some of those concerns by reaching an end-of-the-month fundraising goal. Her team is sending emails requesting donations by midnight Friday.

"We only have eight hours left, and I really need you to have my back and help me beat Joe Heck," the email read.

Bilbray said in an interview in June, before the visit from Biden and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, that voters in Nevada’s 3rd District are passionate about her and the issues she stands for.

“People are really enthusiastic,” she said.

Washington political operatives on both sides of the race are chiming in; a sign that nothing is for certain until election day Nov. 4​.

“Erin Bilbray was once a prized Democrat recruit in Washington, D.C. Now Erin Bilbray’s campaign is a laughingstock and has been completely abandoned by Washington Democrats,” said Tyler Q. Houlton, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, in a statement Friday.

Democrats point to the fact the parties have an even number of registered voters in the district, and an April internal Bilbray poll by respected firm The Mellman Group shows Bilbray may have a slight lead among voters who hear her platform versus Heck’s.

The Cook Report says the race is far from over, but “operatives on both sides agree Heck is in an enviable position.”

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