The Nevada Senate race is getting a lot of attention — from outside the Silver State.
Outside spending on the contest, where Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkeley in trying to unseat Republican incumbent Dean Heller, has reached nearly $18 million, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
And spending by the candidates and outside partisan groups are on track to top $20 million each, political science professor Mark Peplowski of the College of Southern Nevada told the Las Vegas Journal-Review.
|Dean Heller (AP Photo)
Super PACs like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the pro-Democrat Patriot Majority have been pumping money into the race. Berkeley also has been targeted by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the multibillionaire, who did much so much to support Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign, hates Berkeley because in the 1990s, when she was his corporate lawyer, she spoke out against his efforts to make the Venetian hotel-casino a non-union shop.
Heller, who wants to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, publicly distanced himself from Mitt Romney after the release of statements at a May fundraiser where the Republican presidential candidate said 47 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes and rely on government handouts.
“Keep in mind, I have five brothers and sisters. My father was an auto mechanic. My mother was a school cook. I have a very different view of the world,” Heller said after Romney’s secretly recorded comments were made public.
Heller, 52, was appointed to the Senate last year to fill out the remainder of Republican John Ensign's term. Ensign resigned after the disclosure of an affair he had with an aide's wife sparked an ethics investigation. Heller had been in the House of Representatives and before that was Nevada's secretary of state for more than a decade.
|Shelley Berkley (AP Photo)
His opponent is a seven-term congresswoman representing the Las Vegas area who has been named on the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's list of "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" for two straight years.
Berkley, 61, is still under an ethics cloud for supporting healthcare legislation that would allegedly help her husband's medical practice. In one ad Heller calls her "the most unethical, corrupt person" he has ever met.
In a televised debate last week, Heller again hammered Berkley for her ties to a company that buys foreclosed property, accusing her of "profiting of other people's misery." She replied "It makes absolutely no sense to me that we have empty, bank-owned homes that are deteriorating. The banks have them now. They have nobody in them."
Nevada’s five electoral votes went to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, and its senior senator, Harry Reid is the chamber’s majority leader. But it is considered a swing state in the presidential election.
A Rasmussen Reports poll this week gave Heller with a five percentate point lead over his challenger.
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