WASHINGTON — Democrats are seeking a bright side to the news that they will have to face an incumbent in Nevada’s 2012 Senate race now that Gov. Brian Sandoval has declared he’ll appoint Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) to the seat.
Heller will replace Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), who is resigning, effective Monday, amid investigations into his affair with a staffer.
Democrats would have preferred for Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), who has already declared her Senate candidacy, to face off with Heller on equal footing, with both of them running from seats in the House of Representatives. They were banking on the fact that Berkley is well-known in the crucial, populous Las Vegas area that she represents to give her an advantage. But now that Heller will be running as an incumbent, they are hoping that his higher profile will provide a silver lining in the Silver State — that his bigger job will make him a bigger, easier target.