Since he announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Harry Reid, Nevada Congressman Joe Heck has been crisscrossing the state expounding on his qualifications and ideas.
Heck, who has represented Congressional District 3 since he was first elected in 2010, spoke Friday at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner hosted by the Churchill County Central Republican Committee.
The three-term congressman brings an impressive resume to the race — doctor, brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserve who deployed to Iraq, businessman and community volunteer.
“This is going to be the most critical election of your lifetime. Think about it,” he said before a packed dinner at the Fallon Convention Center.
Not only is Reid’s senate seat going to be a battle between Heck and former attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto — if both survive the June primary — but the presidential election will also be a pivotal race. Reid has already endorsed Cortez Masto.
Heck came to Fallon in early August after announcing his candidacy. He conducted a roundtable discussion with veterans to hear of their concerns. He returned to Churchill County to participate in the annual Labor Day parade and to visit the Fallon Cantaloupe Festival.
He said Churchill County and the other rural counties all have a critical role in electing the next U.S. Senator from Nevada. If he lost to Cortez-Masto in Clark County, Heck said as long as he won the 15 rural counties and performed well in Washoe, he could still win the election.
“(We need) to make sure the rural counties are energized and engaged in this election,” Heck said. “There’s a lot at stake.”
He said Reid, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986 after serving two terms in the House of Representatives, has been in office too long. Furthermore, he said the nation couldn’t afford another four years of continuing the policies of both outgoing President Barack Obama and Reid and possibly Hillary Clinton. That promoted Heck to say Republicans must be unified to support the Republican candidate for president.
The 2016 election will have five seats that could switch parties — four republican that could shift to the Democrats and the Nevada seat that could swing from Democrat to Republican. Heck feels the winner of the vacant Nevada U.S. Senate seat will determine which party will lead.
“Harry will do all he can to keep this seat in Democrat control,” Heck said, adding a loss will be a blemish on Reid’s legacy.
Heck also said Obama’s administration has been worse than former President Jimmy Carter’s four years in office in the late 1970s. He said the current president’s policies — in his own opinion — have been a failure in areas such as national security, education, jobs and healthcare. He particularly cited national security, illustrating the vulnerabilities of innocent people with the San Bernardino mass killing in December and the coordinated assault in Paris in November that left 129 dead.
“He has made this country less safe. He has made this world less safe,” Heck emphasized.
An Army veteran of 25 years, Heck said the current administration has placed the military at its smallest size and readiness level in generations.
Heck said the Obama Administration could not work out a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq before the end of 2011, drew a red line in the sand against Syria to assess the current regime if it were to use chemical weapons on its own people, stood by as Russia annexed the Crimea and invaded Ukraine and inked a deal with Iran over nuclear weapons.
Heck also pointed out that Cortez Masto supports the president’s Iran deal as well as the current federal public lands policy as administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.