RENO " More than a year and a half before the next election, Cindy Olivas Trigg announced her candidacy Friday for the Democratic congressional nomination to face Republican Rep. Dean Heller in Nevada's 2nd District.
Olivas Trigg, 54, president of the Douglas County School Board, said she plans a "different kind of campaign" against Heller "with what Dr. Martin Luther King used to call the 'fierce urgency of now.'"
"Starting today, as a candidate for Congress I am going to campaign every day like it's the final stretch," the former flight attendant said in remarks prepared for her campaign kickoff at a Reno restaurant Friday night.
Democrat Jill Derby, who lost to Heller in the sprawling district each of the last two elections, didn't announce candidacy until about eight months before the election.
"I'm starting very early because that is one of the biggest problems we've heard about in the past," Olivas Trigg told The Associated Press.
"I don't think we have the opportunity right now to sit back and wait and have an off year," he said. "We need to stay motivated. We need to make choices clear to the honest, hardworking people of Nevada."
Aides to Heller did not immediately return telephone e-mail messages.
Heller won re-election to his second term in November in the district that covers all of Nevada except parts of Las Vegas and Clark County. As of last month, there were about 20,000 more active registered Republicans than Democrats in the district " 193,258 to 173,048.
Olivas Trigg helped with Derby's campaign and worked as a rural organizer for the state Democratic Party last election. She said raising enough money to defeat Heller will be a challenge and declined to estimate how much it would take.
"I intend to take advantage of the grass roots in the Democratic Party. I helped develop those grass roots in the rurals. It will take a lot of phone calls, a lot of hard work," she said.
"I believe (Heller's) biggest vulnerability is his unwillingness to work across party lines and actually be effective in Congress," she said.
"Since he went to Washington he has become very partisan," Olivas Trigg said, adding that he was "more moderate" when he was Nevada's secretary of state.
Olivas Trigg said one reason she is running is because Heller "keeps referring to foreclosure reform as helping people who were irresponsible."
"It is not irresponsible people who are being hurt right now," she said.
In prepared remarks, she said that if she is elected she will work to create "green collar jobs" by boosting alternative energy production and support reforms to slow home foreclosures. She also wants to compel insurance companies to provide low-cost coverage to Nevadans without health insurance.
Olivas Trigg first was elected to the school board in 2004 and won re-election last fall. She said she has seen the harm caused by education spending cuts and wants to "scrap No Child Left Behind."
"Three nights ago we cut the Gifted & Talented program. We cut our middle school librarians in lieu of cutting eight additional teachers. This is unacceptable," she said.
"If Dean Heller were doing even a decent job on these issues, I wouldn't be announcing my campaign for Congress today," she said. "The reality is that he's been a spectacular failure in Washington and it's time to bring him home."