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September 16, 2014

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Joe Heck not fazed by Democrats’ ‘anti-woman’ line

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Steve Marcus

U.S. Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV) responds to a question during an editorial board meeting at the Las Vegas Sun offices Monday, Aug. 11, 2014.

This campaign season, U.S. Rep. Joe Heck is playing a familiar role in Nevada political theater: a villain in the Democrats' “war on women.”

It is the Democrats’ standard line of attack, Heck said during an editorial board interview with the Las Vegas Sun on Monday.

Nevada’s District 3 Republican is in a re-election battle against Democratic hopeful Erin Bilbray.

Bilbray is painting him as a lawmaker who’s “no advocate for women’s equality, choice or health.” And Democratic honchos from across the country are doing the same.

In the last month, three party leaders have traveled to Nevada to stand on the soapbox for Bilbray and criticize Heck.

In July, it was Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

On Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, speaking at a United Steelworkers union convention, got a jab in.

Heck isn’t fazed by the parade of support and the negative campaign. It’s the fourth campaign cycle he’s dealt with the “anti-women” attacks (one in a re-election battle he lost in the state Senate and in all of his congressional races).

“To say that I am anti-women tries to feed into this national narrative that Democrats try to use against male candidates, especially when they’re running against a female challenger,” he said.

Heck has a wife and two daughters. He is a physician who spent his career working in emergency rooms and as a soldier who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

He said he spent his 25-year career in medicine taking care of women “at their most vulnerable times in their life — not just from trauma or generic medical illness but as victims of sexual assault or domestic violence.”

His voting record and Bilbray’s attacks offer a mixed view of where the congressman stands.

He supported the Violence Against Women Act, a law signed by President Barack Obama that provided funding for programs, organizations and law enforcement to combat domestic violence.

Heck is pro-life, but does not support bills that would make abortion illegal in the case of rape and incest. He has voted to defund planned parenthood and made a procedural vote to prevent a bill promoting equal pay for women from reaching the floor of the House.

Heck said the move to bring up the vote on wages was a strategy by Democrats to gain fodder.

“I firmly believe that everybody doing the same job at the same level should get the same pay,” he said.

Correction: This story has been revised to remove a reference to Heck's chances of winning re-election. The original story overstated the certainty of a Heck victory.

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