Taking really, really horrible votes after weeks of waffling and seeing his popularity tank has at least one reward for Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV). Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may have put him in a horrible political position, but at least his Super PAC is paying up.
“We were Senator Heller’s biggest independent supporter in 2012 and we expect to be in 2018,” said Steven Law, McConnell’s former chief of staff who now oversees the Senate Leadership Fund. “In general, senators casting tough votes have to be concerned about downstream political consequences. We will have their backs.”
Law insisted he was not necessarily talking about the health care vote(s). But Heller’s variety of positions during the votes last week have made him vulnerable in both a primary and a general election, with one Democratic polling firm placing his approval rating at either 22 percent or 29 percent. Even though those
may be skewed low and were gauged in the middle of the health care debacle, Republican insiders acknowledge Heller’s numbers are likely in the 30s or low 40s. He already was considered one of or the most endangered GOP incumbent, the only one running in a state won last cycle by Hillary Clinton.
This is actually less of a reward to Heller per se than a warning shot at perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian, who is waffling between challenging Heller in a primary or running for a House seat. The best shot Republicans have a keeping this seat is with the incumbent Heller, and they want to do their best to have him go into the general election unharmed by a bruising primary.
If internal polling has him as low as the 30s or low 40s, he’s going to need all the help he can get. Because we’re coming for him.