Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2018

Currently: 72° — Complete forecast

On the stump: Campaign for Senate has Rosen talking about her ability to listen to constituents

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Miranda Alam/Special to Las Vegas Sun

U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks alongside Pastor Mario Rodriguez at C3 Church in Las Vegas Las Vegas on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018.

Thumping bass and a moving crowd are just some of the Vegas-style hallmarks of a church where Jacky Rosen became one of the latest Nevada politicians to address the congregation.

U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen

Pastor Mario Rodriguez, from left, U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., candidate for U.S. Senate, and Pastor Mayra Rodriguez bow their heads in prayer at C3 Church in Las Vegas Las Vegas on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018. Launch slideshow »

The freshman congresswoman’s appearance at C3 Church Las Vegas in August followed a string of past notables, including former Democratic Sen. Harry Reid during his 2010 re-election campaign. While pastors Mario and Mayra Rodriguez do not endorse any candidates, they did lead their congregation, numbering around 1,500 and almost entirely Latino, in a prayer for Rosen, who is campaigning for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Republican Dean Heller.

“I need all of the prayers I can get,” Rosen laughingly told the pastors as they waited backstage before joining the singing congregation.

The stop at the church was one in a long day of campaigning for Rosen, who is juggling her official House duties while campaigning for another office. Rosen’s campaign allowed the Sun to shadow the candidate for most of the day.

Here are some of the highlights:

9:30 a.m.: She appears at Temple Sinai Las Vegas for the Red Rock Dems’ “Blue Wave Beat the Heat” brunch. “One thing you do learn on the trail is you eat whenever you can and you make sure you always have a cold bottle of water,” Rosen said.

10:59 a.m.: Backstage at C3 Church Las Vegas, Rosen tells the pastors that the rock concert-like atmosphere in the church reminds her of the music in her faith, with a band called the Shabbatones play once a month for Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath. Rosen is the former president of Congregation Ner Tamid.

11:20 a.m.: After greeting some parishioners, Rosen waits for services to start in a seat toward the front of the congregation, near the stage. A message visible on a side wall says, “Know God; find freedom; discover purpose; make a difference.”

11:35 a.m.: Rosen takes the stage with Mario Rodriguez, who translates for her while she gives remarks focused on the value of hearing, not just listening, to constituents and what they need, as well as how her grandparents immigrated to the U.S. 100 years ago. “We don’t know what the future holds, and we need to protect it for every person who comes after us. We stand on the ones who came before us,” she said, drawing applause from the crowd.

11:45 a.m.: Rodriguez leads the congregation in a prayer for Rosen before she rejoins the crowd.

11:55 a.m.: As the service wraps up, Rosen heads backstage before heading to her next event and eating a quick lunch in the car.

12:44 p.m.: Rosen stands beside Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson at the Nevada State Democratic Party Party’s southwest field office opening. Also at the front of the room are Democratic candidates from up and down the ticket, standing in front of an open garage door. It’s standing room only as fans circulate air on a day with a high of 108 degrees.

1:05 p.m.: Rosen gives a similar speech to the one at the church, focusing on hearing rather than just listening to constituents. She encourages supporters to make sure everyone they know is registered to vote.

1:16 p.m.: Speeches end and the candidates pose for a group photo before the field office grinds into gear with phone-banking and knocking on doors.

1:25 p.m.: Q&A with the Sun before going into meetings for the rest of the day. Here are excerpts:

On hot and exhausting campaign days like this, what keeps you going to the next event?

Regular people. You look out, I mean, a few weeks ago I was at a woman’s home who does phone banks, and she does them all through the year. She opened her home, she decorated it, she cooked, she had all her friends and neighbors. She works in food service at the school district, and she does this every week because it matters to her community.

What should be done to improve health care?

We need to mend it and not end it. The Affordable Care Act, it’s like a patient and it’s sick because Republicans have been sabotaging it all along the way. Every single thing they’re trying to do is to weaken it. So what we need to do is be sure that we strengthen it, be sure that we strengthen those pre-existing conditions (protections). I just actually led a piece of legislation to allow the House of Representatives onto that federal lawsuit to defend the constitutionality of pre-existing conditions in the Affordable Care Act, because nobody wants to go back to that time.

The most important thing you have is your health. We can’t afford to let anyone to fall through the cracks, so we need to mend it. We need to boost up our community exchanges, boost up our insurance programs, think about what we can do for pharmaceuticals. I’ve also led a bill that caps prescription drug costs for families, $250 for an individual, $500 for families per month. It’s really important.

Then, once we get that stabilized, then we can move forward and see what the right direction is to go. But until we do that, we can’t let anybody fall through the cracks; we need to mend it.

Do you support calls by some Democrats and progressives to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement?

No, I don’t support abolishing ICE. We have to respect the men and women who work very hard to protect our communities. ICE does other things, they do cyberterrorism, counterterrorism, drug and human trafficking. So what’s wrong right now with ICE is this administration’s policies have been reckless and mean-spirited, and they’ve been awful. What’s happening now, this administration can stop this in a second by the stroke of a pen. They started it, and they can stop it, and that’s what they need to do.

What we really need to have, what everyone is talking about, is we need to have comprehensive immigration reform that protects our Dreamers, gives a path to citizenship, keeps our borders safe and secure. We don’t want violent criminals here, of course not, but we have to have a plan to allow people to come, to work in seasonal jobs, high-tech, medical — there are so many things, and what’s happening right now is all the reckless agenda of this administration. Every crisis is made by them, and we can fix it by bringing comprehensive reform to the table.

As a freshman lawmaker, what has prepared you for a seat in the Senate?

I am the granddaughter of immigrants. I have a daughter who’s 22. So I’m going to honor my heritage of where I came from — I put myself through college as a waitress, I was a woman in technology, I raised a family, I did community work. Life isn’t linear. I stepped off my career path to take care of my parents and in-laws as they got ill, so it is very sexist for someone to say why does a woman think that her whole life doesn’t matter and that you are more than the sum of your one-page resume. I’m here to fight for Nevadans who have built their life just like I did. … What makes me qualified is because I know that the dignity and decency of our democracy is at stake. I’m willing to listen to Nevadans, everyday Nevadans like my family is, and I’m going to be the person that fights for them every single day.

What do you have to say about criticism over whether you actually earned your credentials and built a business?

I built my career as a computer programmer, systems analyst, working for big companies, writing large mainframe software. I transitioned to be an independent consultant. I worked for myself, writing computer software, designing computer software. That’s a long time ago, over 20 years ago some of it, and I think, again, Dean Heller can’t stand on the issues. He doesn’t want to talk about policy, he doesn’t want to talk about how he switched positions on health care, on Planned Parenthood, how he has a 0 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters last year, how he votes with this administration 96 percent of the time no matter what people here in Nevada want him to do. And so if I were Dean Heller, I wouldn’t want to talk about the issues either. And so I think it’s baseless, again, something that they don’t do to a man. I think it’s very, very much what they do to a woman, those kinds of those attacks, and I’m going to ask him to talk about the policies. I challenge him to talk to us about his votes.

Editor’s note: Incumbent Sen. Heller, R-Nev., Rosen’s opponent in this fall’s election, declined to participate in this project with the Sun; his campaign spokesman has not responded to a request for a one-on-one interview.