Nevada Republicans boo Heller with Trump in debate

RENO, Nevada (AP) – Hundreds of exuberant Republicans booed and taunted former US Senator Dean Heller on Thursday night as he tried to brandish his conservative credentials and position himself as close as possible to former President Donald Trump during the from the first debate leading to Republican Primary for governor of Nevada in June.

Unlike the other seven Republican primary hopefuls who took the stage, Heller’s remarks about crime, schools, and virus warrants did little to appease the unmasked audience, who laughed when the veteran politician claimed that he was “the only proven conservative” in the race to face Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak in November.

Republicans hope national discontent with President Joe Biden’s economic and social agenda, coupled with frustrations over the pandemic, will lead to voter turnout and bring them back to power in Washington, DC and swing states such as Nevada. But Heller’s reception reflects the uphill battle many one-time moderates face now as they attempt to veer right on polarizing issues such as election administration and immigration.

Heller opened the debate by attributing what he called unprecedented voter enthusiasm to the “Trump effect.” And amid the boos, he repeatedly told the audience that he had only spoken to the former president a few hours before.

Heller ignored the heckling and said after the debate that it was likely from supporters of Joey Gilbert, a Reno lawyer who opposes vaccines and was outside the United States Capitol when it was under siege one year ago.

“They know who is leading in this race and they will boo the leader whenever they get the chance,” he said.

Four years after losing the 2018 Nevada Senate race to Democrat Jacky Rosen by 5 percentage points, Heller has come closer to Trump and highlighted their work on the 2017 Tax Cuts Act. and employment. But Republican activists continue to remember his opposition to Trump’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the resulting enmity between the two men.

Tory scorches like Gilbert and Las Vegas City Councilor Michele Fiore received a warmer reception from party loyalists on Thursday night at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, where organizers fired candidates for from a deck of playing cards to determine their place on the debate stage.

Their claims about “critical race theory” taught in schools, about electoral fraud, and Gilbert’s arguments that politicians should “take the handcuffs off our (police) officers and let them do their jobs” been applauded.

The same goes for their lines and searches in Sisolak and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the only Republican candidate who did not attend Thursday’s debate.

Critical Race Theory is an academic framework that links the country’s history, including the legacy of slavery, to contemporary laws and racism. Nevada administrators have repeatedly denied that it is taught, but it is frequently used as a shorthand by parents opposed to incorporating concepts such as equity and multiculturalism into school curricula.

Fiore, Gilbert, Heller and Lombardo are among a long list of Republicans hoping to topple Sisolak, a first-term Democrat who won 5.1 percentage points in 2018. They’re betting the Republicans’ economic message will resonate in Nevada, where the economy rests. heavily on sectors such as tourism and live entertainment that cannot easily switch to remote work. The state’s 6.8% unemployment rate ranks 50th in the country, and 66,200 fewer workers are employed in casinos and hotels than before the pandemic.

“Considering the disaster that the Sisolak administration has experienced in the state, people are paying attention,” said Guy Nohra, another candidate, the venture capitalist. “I know our team is going to be really excited. I could see him tonight. I could feel it tonight.


Metz is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative body. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.

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