Monday, May 9, 2011 | 2:28 p.m.
A small businessman, an unemployed worker, a senior citizen and a veteran, all Democrats, spoke out Monday about Republican policies they say will make their lives harder.
The group, organized by the state Democratic Party, focused specifically on policies advocated by Dean Heller, who was sworn in Monday as a U.S. senator. They gathered outside the Lloyd D. George Building in downtown Las Vegas.
Democrats planned the event to highlight the differences between Heller, a Republican, and Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley, who will challenge the former Congressman for his Senate seat in 2012.
The Democrats blasted Heller for policies they say kill jobs, hurt seniors and fail to properly provide for veterans.
Letanya Davis, an unemployed solar worker, said Heller's vote to end loan guarantees for clean energy projects means it will be harder for her to find a job.
"If Dean Heller had his way, I'd have no chance to get off unemployment," Davis said.
Dick Collins, a retired prison vocational worker, said Heller's support for restructuring Medicare would cost him an extra $6,000 a year in premiums. He also blasted Heller for wanting to privatize Social Security.
"I paid in," Collins said. "I believe the government owes me and owes the people they made promises to."
Rodney Smith, a retired Air Force veteran and Purple Heart recipient, criticized Heller for voting against Veterans Administration funding that would help pay for benefits and medical treatment for wounded soldiers.
Smith suffered a traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress after being severely injured in Saudi Arabia in 1996.
"Every vote they takes affects someone," he said.
Several of the speakers had previously appeared at rallies supporting Berkley and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Republicans, who heard that Democrats were planning the event, sent out a news release Monday morning picking apart Berkley's record.
A spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee pointed out that Berkley voted for "ObamaCare," which cut Medicare spending, and supported the federal stimulus bill, which critics have said caused health insurers to raise premiums.
"Maybe if Ms. Berkley didn’t spend so much time voting with her liberal mentor Harry Reid she wouldn’t be locked in this bruising primary fight with Byron Georgiou, nor would she need the Democratic Party to distort Mr. Heller’s record,” NRSC spokesman Jahan Wilcox said.