An ongoing feud between Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and Nevada Rep. Shelly Berkley could have national implications in a race that could change which party controls the U.S. Senate, according to the Las Vegas Sun
. A Democrat, Berkley is attempting a Senate run.
The newspaper reported Tuesday that Adelson, whose wealth helped finance Newt Gingrich’s GOP presidential bid, has also spent a great deal of money and time since 1997 trying to thwart Berkley’s political ambitions. That was the year he and Berkley, who had worked for him as his vice president for legal and governmental affairs, had a falling out over their political differences.
He fired her, and Berkley, a Democrat, went on to be elected to Congress from Nevada in 1998. Now she’s running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller. The race is predicted to be close — and costly, with Adelson’s money expected to play a big part in the drama.
“His role in the U.S. Senate race will be substantial,” an unnamed Republican operative familiar with Adelson’s political spending told the Sun. “This time it’s even more important because his contributions could mean a lot more, not just in the outcome of Berkley’s race, but in the entire makeup of the U.S. Senate.”
Adelson and his family have already spent about $20 million supporting Gingrich, and have given another $5 million to a political action committee committed to maintaining the Republican majority in the house.
But according to the Sun, political analysts believe this year’s Nevada Senate race may be personal to Adelson.
“Look, he spent $20 million on Gingrich and he didn’t even dislike Mitt Romney or anybody else in the race,” one Democratic operative told the newspaper. “I think he is going to spend as much as he wants, or as much as he thinks he needs to spend, to beat her.”
Republicans, however, say Adelson’s money won’t make that much of a difference. According to the Sun, he is considered an important Republican donor, but so far he has spent only a fifth of the $100 million promised to back GOP candidates.
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