Tuesday, April 17, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Democrat Jacky Rosen raised more than twice as much campaign cash as Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller in recent months, closing in on the GOP incumbent considered one of the most vulnerable to seek re-election in the Senate this year.
A partial copy of Heller's fundraising report provided to The Associated Press on Monday shows Heller raised about $1.1 million from January 1 through March 31.
Rosen, a congresswoman from Nevada's 3rd District who is challenging Heller this year, reported late last week having raised almost $2.6 million during the same time frame.
Democrats aiming in this year's midterm elections to win control of the U.S. Senate see Heller's seat as one of their best chances to win one of two seats needed to claim the Senate majority, though they face tough battles to hang on to Democratic seats elsewhere.
Though the freshman Democrat outpaced Heller's fundraising, she's still catching up to the more than $4.4 million he has in his campaign account. Fundraising numbers show Rosen ended March with $3.5 million in her campaign coffers.
Heller spokesman Keith Schipper said in a statement that the campaign was better situated than at the same point in Heller's 2012 campaign.
"With 267 campaign co-chairs, over 1,300 volunteers, and staff across the entire state, we are building the biggest and strongest campaign Nevada has ever seen," Schipper said.
Rosen's campaign noted it's the third consecutive fundraising period where she outraised Heller.
"This is more evidence that Sen. Heller is headed for defeat in November," Rosen campaign manager Danny Kazin said in a statement.
Heller, running in an increasingly Democratic state, is the only Republican Senator seeking re-election in a state won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Eric Herzik, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, said the reports show Democrats are pouring money into Rosen's campaign but that Heller's campaign may not need to be overly worried about being outraised over the last few months.
"I don't think money is going to be a problem in this race for either candidate," he said.
Herzik said outside spending, including possible donations from conservative groups for Heller, will be more decisive because that money will be used for more negative ads.
The new fundraising reports in the Nevada race are the first to be filed since Danny Tarkanian, Heller's main opponent for his party's nomination, dropped out of the race in mid-March at President Donald Trump's request after Tarkanian spent months hammering Heller from the right, including his shifting embrace of Trump.
Tarkanian, who is now running in Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, criticized Heller for failing to be a stalwart backer of the president.
Heller had sharp words for Trump as a presidential candidate and kept his distance from him until recent months, having helped deliver a Republican overhaul of the tax law's to the preisdent's desk.
Tarkanian's exit created an easier path for Heller to win his party's nomination and has helped make national Republican resources available to Heller, a first-term senator and former congressman and secretary of state.
Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to appear with Heller at a fundraiser and rally last week touting the tax overhaul, but postponed the trip when he had to attend a summit in South America on Trump's behalf.
Rosen, a former computer programmer, software designer and president of a Henderson synagogue who narrowly won her House seat in 2016, is considered the most well-known and well-financed Democrat seeking the Senate seat.
Rosen or Heller's full fundraising reports were not available Monday.