RENO — Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei and his Democratic challenger Chip Evans both are preaching the need for change, but not the same kind.
Amodei, the third-term congressman now chairing Donald Trump’s campaign in Nevada, wasn’t a fan of the New York billionaire from the start but says he’s rallying around the GOP nominee in hopes of seizing the White House from the Democrats.
Evans, a first-time candidate from Reno, is trying to become the first Democrat ever to win a House seat in the sprawling, 2nd District stretching from Oregon to the middle of the battleground state.
“It’s time for a change,” Evans said during a pre-taped debate that aired Thursday on KRNV-TV in Reno.
“Congress is broken. Mark has been there 57 months and through his actions he has proven he is part of the problem,” Evans said. Evans said the GOP-controlled Congress is beholden to major corporations and the “super wealthy.”
“Mr. Amodei has a long history in politics but his votes in Congress have been very aligned with that group,” Evans said, arguing he’d better represent workers, women, Latinos and other minorities.
Amodei distanced himself from Congress and partisan politics in Washington during the debate — a series of responses to questions from “Nevada Newsmakers” moderator Sam Shad. The 30-minute program was taped Tuesday.
“Mr. Evans is correct, Congress has an awful reputation. We haven’t been a part of that,” Amodei said. “I am equally horrified at the partisanship back there.”
Amodei was a state legislator for 14 years before he won a special election for the vacant U.S. House seat in 2011. He won 66 percent of the vote in 2014. He said he’s the first congressman in the district to host round tables for a variety of groups, ranging from veterans and Latino business owners.
“We’ve decided not to wallow in the political rancor but to focus on getting legislation done and concentrating on effective oversight,” he said. “We’ve tried to lead by example ... We’ve tried to be plain-talkers.”
Amodei initially endorsed Jeb Bush as the 2016 GOP presidential nominee, then backed Marco Rubio before agreeing late last month to chair Trump’s Nevada campaign. He acknowledged he’s been criticized for taking up Trump’s mantle, but planned all along to support the GOP nominee.
“What it boils down to in my mind is ... do you like the way things (are) going, or do you want change?” he said.
Amodei acknowledged he was disappointed in Trump’s first debate with Hillary Clinton.
“I’ll be honest, if I was going to have a criticism of him, it would be that it looked to me like he didn’t prepare a lot. And shame on you (Trump) for that, because you only get three opportunities,” Amodei told Reno’s KKOH Radio on Thursday.
“The good news is George Bush proved you don’t have to be a great debater to be president,” he said, “and Mitt Romney proved you can win the first debate and not win the election.”