Mark Damon/Las Vegas News Bureau
Thursday, March 30, 2017 | 1:40 p.m.
Nevada's 1st U.S. House Rep. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, said she is considering running for the U.S. Senate in 2018 against incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller.
Titus, speaking Thursday on Nevada Newsmakers, cited Nevada voter registration numbers that favor Democrats as a factor that would be in her favor if she decided to run. She is also connecting Heller to the Trump Administration.
"Yeah, I'm thinking about it," she said. "A lot of people have asked me to do it. Right now, I think the demographics of Nevada would point to a Democratic victory. And I've got a lot of things I disagree with Dean Heller on."
"When you see this (Trump) administration and some of the things it stands for, and if Heller continues to support that, then somebody has got to stand up to him, whether it is me or somebody else," she later said. "You cant just let these things go unchallenged."
Heller's office did not immediatley return an e-mail request for comment.
The voter registration statistics are just one factor Titus is considering. Democrats currently have 104,000 more registered voters in Nevada as of February, according to the Secretary of State.
"I think there are about 100,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans as a result of the last election cycle and the efforts by Democrats to register voters," Titus said. "The other side of that coin is that it is an off-year election, so it is harder to get people to turn out. But I think we are going to have a lively governor's race this time and that will make a difference."
Titus said she will decide within the next few months.
When asked about her strategy she would use against Heller, Titus was non-committal.
"I am not going to give away all my secrets right now, but I can tell you his recent vote on public lands and environmental protections is one area."
Titus said that for Democrats, Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak will probably run for governor and state Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, will run for attorney general.
That would pit Sisolak against Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who is officially exploring a gubernatorial run.
"The person that I've talked to most recently that will do it (run for governor) is Steve Sisolak," Titus said. "I guess (Steve) Cloobeck (Former Diamond Resorts CEO) has thrown his name out there, too. But when it comes right down to it, I'll be surprised if he does it."
Titus said she has been told Ford would run for attorney general. On the Republican side, U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, has mentioned he's considering running for attorney general.
"That's what I've been hearing," Titus said about Ford's candidacy for attorney general. "That would be in his wheelhouse because he is an attorney."
A Titus vs. Heller senatorial race would mark the first time the two longtime Nevada politicians have run against each other.
Titus was first elected to Congress in the 3rd U.S. House District in 2008 after she had been the Senate Minority Leader in the Nevada Legislature. She lost her re-election bid to Joe Heck in 2010 but came back to win the 2012 election for the 1st U.S. House District seat. She has held that seat ever since.
In 2006, she lost a spirited race for governor against Republican Jim Gibbons by four points.
"If I went over the the senate, (Nevada's Sen.) Catherine (Cortez-Masto) is No. 100 (in seniority) so I think I'd be No. 101," she said. "You just have to start over and I've been a freshman (in Congress) twice already. Those are important considerations. Plus, I have a fabulous district. Everywhere you go in the world, people know you represent Las Vegas. They have heard of it and they want to go. So that is difficult, thinking about giving it up."
Heller was first appointed to Nevada's vacant U.S. Senate seat by Gov. Brian Sandoval in 2011. He defended it is the 2102 election, defeating U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley. Heller served as Nevada's 2nd U.S. House Rep. from 2007 until he appointment to the U.S. Senate.
Heller, like Titus, started his political career in the Legislature. He was an assemblyman from Carson City (1991-95) and was Nevada's Secretary of State from 1995 to 2007.
Ray Hagar is a retired political journalist from the Reno Gazette-Journal and current reporter/columnist for the Nevada Newsmakers podcast and website, nevadanewsmakers.com. Follow Ray on Twitter at @RayHagarNV.