Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev, voted no on the clean repeal of Obamacare today. Many conservatives and supporters of President Trump are furious that Heller has voted against a common-sense repeal of Obamacare, and for standing in the way of the President’s agenda.
In 2015, Heller voted in favor of the partial repeal of Obamacare. So, his vote against the full repeal today has many Nevadans scratching their heads.
Heller and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval have stood firmly against any roll back of the expansion of Medicaid allowed by the Affordable Care Act. Sandoval said in a statement that he’s working with Heller to protect Medicaid expansion.
“My policy position has not changed. I will continue to do all I can to protect the thousands of Nevadans whose lives are healthier and happier as a result of the expansion of Medicaid. My health care team which includes staff and cabinet experts, have and will continue to review proposals offered in the Senate and discuss the potential impacts of Nevada with Senator Heller and his staff.”
Jon Ralston, Editor of The Nevada Independent, has been an outspoken critic of Heller, and his inability to take a clear position on repeal of Obamacare. He attributes it to Heller’s “Re-Election Fear Syndrome.”
It does appear that Heller’s main focus at this stage is winning re-election in 2018, and he wants to make sure he’s appealing to liberals. He doesn’t think twice about screwing over conservatives, because he’s more worried about casting a vote that would cut Medicaid.
Heller had no issue voting to repeal Obamacare in 2015, since he knew Obama would veto it. With a new president in the White House, he’s had a change of heart, because he knows there’s a good chance the repeal will actually pass. Liberals and some moderate voters in Nevada would blame Heller for the change to the healthcare system.
Ralston also believes that Heller has already lost the election, no matter what he chooses to do from now on.
Ralston is not the only Nevadan that feels this way. Even before the Obamacare vote, Republicans knew Heller is vulnerable, and have been searching for a replacement.
Heller narrowly defeated Democratic Congresswoman Shelley Berkley in the 2012 U.S. Senate race. He won by only 12,100 votes out of almost 900,000 cast.
To make matters even worse for Heller, the President himself warned him last week he could lose his Senate seat if he didn’t back the repeal. Trump said this with Heller sitting directly to his right:
“This was the one we were worried about. You weren’t there. But you’re gonna be. You’re gonna be. Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he? And I think the people of your state, which I know very well, I think they’re gonna appreciate what you hopefully will do. Any senator who votes against starting debate is really telling America that you’re fine with Obamacare. But being fine with Obamacare isn’t enough for another reason. Because it’s gone. It’s failed. It’s not gonna be around.”
Unless Heller can quickly make amends with Trump, it appears that he will have the sitting Republican President actively working against him, and supporting his primary opponent.
President Trump has a strong contingent of supporters Nevada, with 45.75% of Republicans caucusing for him in 2016.
It’s only a matter of time before a viable Republican emerges to take down the incumbent Senator.