Senator Dean Heller: Facing the Challenges Ahead

In representing Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District, Dean Heller voted his conscience as a staunch fiscal conservative, and on several occasions seemed to be the sole voice of reason among the Nevada delegation.  Now that Gov. Sandoval has appointed him to take over John Ensign’s Senate seat, a special election will take place on Sept. 12 to fill the congressional seat vacated by Heller’s move.  Several candidates have already declared themselves, and it will be interesting to see the outcome of that race.

Meanwhile, it won’t be an easy task for Heller to move from representing a conservative, mostly rural, district to a statewide office where the overall electorate is more liberal.  In addition, he’ll face one of the Senate’s fiercest fighters every day – ex-boxer Harry Reid.  However, the courage he has shown as a Congressman should serve him well in the Senate.  Heller has consistently demonstrated a pro-business stance on a multitude of issues.

Heller has opposed big government – and big government spending – during his term of office by supporting a balanced budget amendment and voting against tax increases.  He was the only member of the Nevada delegation who voted against the Wall Street bailout in 2008, which created TARP as well as the auto bailout.  He voted to institute a moratorium in the House against earmarks, and to roll back federal spending to 2008 levels.

Representative Heller urged Congress to replace the $1.2 trillion “Obamacare” legislation with market-based health care reforms that would reduce costs without increasing government interference or shackling our children with unsustainable debt.  During the health care debate, he led efforts to add two common-sense provisions to the bill: verifying citizenship before granting taxpayer-funded benefits, and requiring members of Congress to join any government-run health care plan.

Heller has supported bills providing greater access to domestic sources of oil and gas to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  He opposed the so-called “Employee Free Choice Act” (also called “card check”), which would eliminate secret ballots in union organizing elections, allow unions to bully workers into signing union cards, and subject employers and employees to mandatory government arbitration when negotiating union contracts.

Heller also supported conservative legislation on vital social issues, including voting to uphold the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for the military, voting in 2007 to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, and voting to support marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman.

He opposed legislation to grant amnesty to illegal aliens, who currently cost taxpayers an estimated $100 billion a year in public services, and voted to end birthright citizenship.  By automatically granting citizenship to children born to undocumented immigrants, this policy encourages women to sneak into the U.S. to have “anchor babies,” who immediately qualify for taxpayer-funded benefit programs, and who can sponsor other family members as soon as they reach the age of 21.

A passage from Heller’s website sums it up: “The message currently being sent by Nevadans is crystal clear — change ‘business as usual’ in Washington politics…my top priorities are to cut spending, reduce the size and scope of government, and give U.S. businesses and the American people the chance to re-energize our economy.”

Heller’s appointment will give him the advantage of running as an incumbent in the 2012 senatorial election against Democrat Shelley Berkley.  Meanwhile, between now and November 2012, he has time to raise funds as a Senator, to build a statewide profile by attending events in all parts of Nevada, and to develop a senatorial voting record.  I hope he’ll continue to represent the best interests of Nevada voters by upholding his conservative principles, instead of bowing to political pressure to moderate his stance in order to gain votes.