Rosen, a Democrat from the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, had been widely expected to launch a bid against the Republican incumbent.
“I never thought I’d run for office, but I stepped up because I wanted to make a difference for my community. As people too often forget in Washington, behind every problem there are people back home who are suffering,” Rosen said in a statement. “For years, Senator Heller has been voting over and over again to slash Medicaid funding and repeal the Affordable Care Act instead of working to fix it.”
Heller has stated he is opposed to the most recent version of the Senate GOP proposal to roll back the 2010 health care law.
The Heller campaign responded to the Rosen announcement with a photo of the congresswoman alongside former Sen. Harry Reid.
“Thought Nevada was free of Harry Reid? Think again,” Heller campaign spokesman Tommy Ferraro said.
Reid, the longtime Senate Democratic leader who built up the Silver State’s Democratic Party apparatus, had encouraged Rosen to run for the Senate seat. Rosen told The Nevada Independent that Reid reached out about a possible Senate campaign in late May.
“He told me to think about it and that’s what I did when I came home to talk to my husband,” Rosen said in an interview with the new site. “I’ve said this so many times before, my faith tradition teaches me that we’re supposed to leave the world a better place than when we found it, and it’s important that if you have the opportunity to stand up and make a difference for things that matter to you and to the people that you love and care about or your community that I should do that.”
Rosen previously served as president of Congregation Ner Tamid, a Reform synagogue in Henderson. As a newcomer to campaign politics when she ran for her current office last year, she won the seat in a district carried by President Donald Trump by defeating Danny Tarkanian, a perennial candidate. Tarkanian may run for the House seat again, or he could seek to challenge Heller.
The Senate bid by Rosen opens up what has the potential to be prime opportunity for a GOP takeover of Rosen’s 3rd District seat. Since the district’s creation after the 2000 census, Republicans have won every election for the seat, except for Rep. Dina Titus who served a term from 2009 to 2011 (she now represents the 1st District) and Rosen last year.
Scott Sloofman, a spokesman for the Republican-backing PAC America Rising, focused on the potential for a Democratic Senate primary between Rosen and Titus, while also noting the Reid connection.
“With Dina Titus set to take on the Reid machine for a third time, Nevada Democrats are in for months of hard fought intra-party conflict.” Sloofman said.
Titus is reportedly also mulling a run against Heller.
“I can’t control what Sen. Reid does nor what Jacky Rosen does nor what Dean Heller does,” Titus told the Las Vegas Sun before Rosen’s announcement. “I can only control what Dina Titus does. So I will make my decision based on that — not on Sen. Reid preferences, whatever they may be, and for whatever reason they are.”