NV-Sen: Sandoval Will Appoint Heller

I know you’re shocked:

Citing Nevada’s need for “an experienced voice in Washington, D.C.,” Gov. Brian Sandoval announced Wednesday that he will appoint Rep. Dean Heller to fill the vacancy of retiring Sen. John Ensign, whose resignation becomes official May 3.

“Dean is an experienced representative who is ready for the responsibilities of this office, and who will work hard, not just for Nevada, but for the entire nation,” Sandoval said in a statement.

“Just as Senator John Ensign fought for states’ rights and sound economic policies, Dean will speak out for the concerns of everyday Nevadans,” he said. “I am confident he will help get Nevada working again.”

The only surprising thing to me is that Sandoval actually mentioned Ensign by name, but Dave Catanese has the governor’s full statement, which ever-so-subtly jabs the resigning senator by calling Heller a man of “deep personal integrity.”

Anyhow, now that this is all but over with, we can move on to the craziness that will ensue in the special election to fill Heller’s 2nd CD seat. Should be some good times.

55 thoughts on “NV-Sen: Sandoval Will Appoint Heller”

    1. Reid is mulling bringing that up for a vote again later this year (probably as an amendment).

    2. Reid can bring up for a Senate vote every batshit crazy action the House takes to put GOP Senators on record.

      Democrats are notoriously bad at doing this historically; they just don’t use the rules to manufacture wedges like Republicans do.

      But Reid doing this with the budget resolution increases the chances he’ll do it on other things, too.

      I think all through this Congress if the House passes something that is politically toxic, Reid will give serious consideration to giving it a Senate vote.  It’s a win-win, since GOP Senators don’t have an argument against it; he’s bringing up what the Senate GOP Caucus’ own House counterparts already passed.

      Again, Democrats as a rule have been poor at using rules to their advantage, so it’s possible Heller will, indeed, get a voting record easier to defend than his House record.  But it’s far from guaranteed, it all depends on how Harry plays it.

    3. Now that Harry is all in for Shelley. He won’t go along with Sandoval’s plan to clear the path for Heller. That’s why he’s bringing a floor vote on the Ryan Budget, why he intends to push for immigration votes, and why he’ll get more floor votes on big Nevada issues that will force Heller to choose either to side with the majority of Nevada voters or with the teabaggers foaming at the mouth for “purity”.

      1. If the situation were reversed… Wait, it has been and Republicans have used this before against Democrats! Look at Michael Bennet in Colorado, and look at the massive fiasco in Illinois last year. They use it all the time against Dems. Why shouldn’t we give them a taste of their own medicine, especially when anyone being honest here would tell you this was a craven attempt by Sandoval to boost Heller’s election prospects for next year?

        And clearly, PPP found something controversial about it when they polled Nevada last weekend. Why on earth should NV Dems let Sandoval and Heller get away with this?  

  1. I expected a righty like Sandoval to pick one of his own(Angle) over Heller, whom many consider to be a Moderate. This is as out of left field as it comes. Our chances of victory precipitously drop because of this move. I’m confident we’ll have no trouble winning NV-2, however, by a pretty large margin.

  2. I see no reason to have waited this long. He had already endorsed Heller for this seat so there is no reason to expect him not to appoint Heller to finish the term, delaying only gave time for people to talk about using a placeholder instead.

    If I was Sandoval’s CoS or press secretary I’d have had him make an informal (but public) announcement that “of course I’ll appoint Heller” within minutes of Ensign’s annoucnement going public.

  3. And lost of nonpartisan observers like Jon Ralston have endorsed the free-for-all reading of the law, I can’t see how we don’t get a free for all.

  4. It has been Heller since day 1, check Ralston’s tweets.  And Heller is not “considered by many to be a moderate”.

    Now Heller will be forced to take some serious teabaggers votes, including the vote on the Paul Ryan reverse Robin Hood bill, which will further cement his rightwinger status, and given Berkley that much more to work with in taking him down next year.

  5. Both Sandoval and Heller are part of the establishment wing of the Nevada GOP. Both of them HATE Sharrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrron Angle, and this is also about trying to screw her over in NV-02. However if SoS Ross Miller rules in favor of a free-for-all special election, either she or Nevada Democrats will end up with the last laugh.

  6. beyond the fact that he’s a Republican, obviously. He seemed to be pretty non-offensive during the campaign (and a Dem legislature helps in the actual governing part).

  7. that happens Heller’s going to be between a rock and a hard place. If he votes for the budget he gets attacked for it, if he votes against it he’s attacked as a flip flopper. Though that’s fine with me.

  8. Budget vote aside Heller will have a much easier set of votes on his record in the Senate than he would have staying in the house.

  9. Which is worse, voting for every batshit crazy bill from the house that Reid brings to a vote, or every batshit crazy bill the house votes for in the first place?

    This also assumes the PR on this will play out exactly as Reid hopes, which it well might, but it adds an additional element of uncertainty. For instance a budget vote might well be a net positive for Scott Brown, if I was Heller I’d certainly rather have the set of choices that will be coming my way in the Senate than the house, especially since I would no longer have in include a potential primary fight in my calculus.

  10. The p.r. will play out as Reid hopes individually on everyone who votes “yes” in a potentially vulnerable seat, and GOP division helps by aiding a “GOP in disarray” narrative that hurts your party on a meta level.  Sure Scott Brown might vote “no” and tout it, but he’s doing that often enough successfully anyway without these votes, so there’s no marginal gain for him or marginal loss to Democrats.

    For Heller, I’m sure he regards himself as strengthened, but he can’t write off the risk of a primary.  Voting “no” as a Senator on these things might raise the risk, although on the budget resolution in particular I don’t think a “no” vote hurts that much because rank-and-file Republicans appear more divided than the House GOP.

  11. Even if he was intending to appoint Heller from the start, this gives the semblance that he took a week to evaluate all possible candidates for the seat before settling on Heller.

    I’m not certain this will have much negative effect on Sandoval/Heller. It would be one things if Heller were a rich businessman running for Senate, and Sandoval appointed him to give him a leg up in the campaign. But regardless of the fact that he was already running for the seat, it’s hard to argue that there is any Republican in Nevada more qualified for the appointment. The House and the statewide offices are the natural springboards to the Senate, leaving Sandoval with the options of Heller, Heck, and Krolicki (he obviously wouldn’t pick a Dem.)

    I suppose the other option is a placeholder, but I think placeholder Senators cost the state some power in the Senate. For example, who was the stronger interim Senator–Kirsten Gillibrand or George LeMieux?

  12. Ralston and Sebelius had originally pontificated that this would make Heller more formidable because he’s now becoming the incumbent. However with this being seen more as a “back room deal”, this appointment is looking less like an instant positive… And it may even blow back more seriously if the NV-02 special election becomes incredibly messy, ugly, and pricey.

    And looking forward, Sandoval’s “squeaky clean” image may certainly be tarnished more by this move. Last year he portrayed himself as “above the fray”, but now he’s pulling a stunt that we could have easily expected from Jim Gibbons.

  13. But to what degree is this actually seen as a back room deal? I think that’s the $64,000 question here. Has Ralston and the rest of the Nevada MSM begun to write about that storyline yet, or is it mostly limited to the state Democratic party and the Shelley Berkley campaign?

  14. a backroom deal?

    dean heller is THE most qualified republican for the us senate in the entire state, and shelley berkeley is THE most qualified democrat.

    it’s not like picking caroline kennedy

  15. as it maes them look silly.

    Heller is the obvious appointment.  There is nothing even remotely controversial about it.  He has seniority over Heck, and Dems hold the statewide offices, end of story.

  16. How would voting on a few item in the Senate be more damaging than voting for all of them in the House?

  17. Bank on it, 100% guaranteed, no question.

    Even without the appointment he wouldn’t have faced more than token opposition. To expect any such a challenge now is wishful thinking.

    All just my opinion, but i’m right.

  18. We can not forget the special election would be in the current NV-02. Surely the current NV-02 is more republican than the future NV-02.

    Still, we can win here, but the democrats from other states must learn from this.

  19. Reid has incentive to force GOP Senators to take tough votes as a follow-up to the House.  I bet he’ll do this regularly.

    This is a new scenario, first time in many generations, that we have a combo of Dems controlling the WH and Senate, and the GOP controlling the House.  I know for a fact we haven’t had this scenario at least since the Truman Administration, and maybe not even then (don’t know who had the Senate for the 2 years after the 1946 election).  So Reid has a unique situation here, learning as he goes, and he’s probably going to be happy with this approach.

    Anything that the House passes that’s politically toxic, Reid might want a Senate vote.  If there are “fewer” Senate votes, it’s because Reid will simply skip the stuff that has no political mileage.

  20. Its far easier for a house member to vote ina  way that seems less impactful (1 of 435) as opposed to a Senator (1 of 100).

    Its why Senators usually behave better than crazy house members (Joe Wilson, Allen Grayson, etc.).  Its not 100% (probably 80%) but people will expect Senators to act more in the interest of their state/country than congressman.

  21. especially in the new 2nd.

    I’d still give Angle a decent shot of winning if she can hold the establishment GOPer to a relatively low percentage, but Kate can probably get at least 45%, even in the district’s current configuration.

  22. Sandoval is trying to influence the election by appointing Heller. If he wanted a qualified Republican, he could have reached out to Bill Raggio, Jon Porter, Barbara Vucanovich, Lorraine Hunt, Dema Guinn, or a host of other uber-qualified Nevada Republican dignitaries (some who actually may be considered more qualified than Heller) to serve as a placeholder until next year’s election. That way, we the people can simply decide who we want our next Senator to be. But instead, Sandoval just showed that he doesn’t care about proper conduct, and simply wants to (mis)use this appointment to help Heller politically.

    Still, I’m hopeful this will backfire on them.

  23. Obviously anyone appointed has their election prospects boosted.  That goes without saying.

    It’s completely silly to make a phantom issue out of something totally logical, sensible, and obvious.

  24. Unless Sandoval was trying to give Heller an unfair advantage next year? There’s no reason they should get a free pass for this. Why not use this to rip the facade of Sandoval as “Mr. Clean” and Heller as “Mr. Perfect”? Republicans had been planning to tar & feather Shelley Berkley for Harry Reid’s support of her, but now they can me made to be total fools for even trying that.

  25. The name of the game right now besides name rec (going alongside name rec likely) is defining your opponent.  This is what Feingold failed to do with Johnson and what Kirk managed to do with Giannoulias (sp? not worth trying to check that).  Does it really matter, in the end, that Alexi’s family bank which he disassociated himself with years ago is going under?  Probably not.  Does it matter that Sen. Blumenthal misspoke about his participation in Vietnam?  Probably not.  But it paints an image for voters which is ultimately what sells in an election.

    Right now, Berkley can make hay about Heller taking the Senate seat in a shady deal and, even if it isn’t a shady deal, that’s the opinion that’s going to cement Dem turnout to get rid of him, and Indy ambiguity that gives them pause if/when voting for him.  It is completely logical for Republicans to want to keep this seat by moving Heller up, but that doesn’t mean that voters will like it.  

  26. i think it’s the right thing to do. helps with seniority

    bob menendez was in the same situation. were you complaining then? (if you were, forgive me for making this last comment)

  27. If you want to make a little bit of hay with this to rally the base a bit or do better in this news cycle, fine. But if you develop this into a major, long-lasting line of attack, it probably won’t work. It’s not substantive or convincing enough for that, and trying to force lame attacks can backfire.  

  28. Because voters should have the final word in the next election, and that process IMHO shouldn’t be corrupted by attempts to “install” certain people as Senators. And yes, I had the same reservations about Bennet and Menendez.  

  29. Almost two years is a long time to wait to have a “placeholder” who you know is not going to get any seniority.  I thought picking KirstenG, Menendez, etc, were all solid picks, both politically and for the state’s residents as a whole to have an experienced person slide into the seat.  I’m not going to bash the Rs for doing the same thing.

  30. Republicans have no problem at all with Angle’s beliefs or rhetoric.

    But in defeat they need a scapegoat, and in this case with Angle to losing to the hated Reid, Angle is the easiest scapegoat.  That’s what I’ve always said, and I’ve always said they won’t want her again.

    Jon Ralston has been on record as believing in a standard NV-02 primary, Angle would be the frontrunner in the divided field that had been emerging.  I thought not.  It’s all moot now with a special election that will be either a free-for-all or handpicked party nominees.  But Angle won’t even win a free-for-all if anyone regardless of party is allowed to run.

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