Parading down the sidewalk of East William Street, about 100 protesters gathered outside Gold Dust West Casino on Wednesday to greet Sen. Dean Heller and Rep. Mark Amodei before the Carson City Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon.
The monthly event by the Carson City Chamber of Commerce features speakers talking to business leaders. The event was scheduled prior to November’s election. The event is billed as “A Joint Review of the First Quarter presented by Senator Dean Heller and Congressman Mark Amodei.”
The Democratic Party is targeting Heller’s seat in the Senate as state Democratic officials are encouraging push back over his votes to confirm President Trump’s Cabinet picks.
“It’s important for all of us to be here,” said Yvanna Cancela, a Nevada state senator from Las Vegas. “We’re paying attention to his votes. Whether it’s confirming Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator, undermining vital public health protections or failing on immigration policy, Sen. Dean Heller seems to have forgotten Nevada values.”
Protesters are confronting Republican members of Congress across the country this week as the lawmakers return home for a recess. They’re probing lawmakers to see if they’ll veer from President Trump’s more controversial actions.
“I’m concerned about the issues in our country,” said protester Lynette Eddy. “What Obama had set up is being taken away; I’m afraid for our rights.”
“We need a town hall meeting,” said protester Robert Collier. “We want to know why they voted people against healthcare and education. Why can’t we just talk and why don’t we get responses? It’s a peaceful demonstration but here in Carson City, we want our say — it’s not just D.C.”
Many of the protesters in attendance were from outside of Carson City and Reno. Shouting over a megaphone, protest leaders shouted, “Where’s Dean? What’s your question for Dean?”
“It’s clear Dean Heller and other Republicans in the state are ducking from the anger and outrage that is nationwide and here in Nevada,” said Ed Andrews of Zephyr Cove, holding a sign that said “Don’t Hide from Voters.”
“I honestly don’t believe Dean Heller believes half the stuff that Donald Trump is saying,” he said.
Representatives and supporters of organizations, such as League of Conservation Voters, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood also protested.
“There is so much on the line for Nevadans right now as it relates to health care, immigration, the environment, and the intersection of all of those issues,” said Daela Gibson, director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood. “We’re making sure Dean Heller understands that the health of millions of Nevadans is on the line.”
“We’re hoping Dean Heller and Mark Amodei know that this is not business as usual anymore,” said Bob Fulkerson, state director of Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. “They are supporting an individual who is not fit to govern. They are our first line of defense. They have to choose whether they support Trump or our communities.”
Carson City resident Terry McMillian stood outside the casino and watched.
Originally, his plans were to spend the afternoon at the casino but he decided to observe the protest for 30 minutes, slowly shaking his head.
“I agree with protesting and it’s something we’ve had for a long time in politics,” he said. “But it causes a dilemma on both sides. I see nothing but a war. No one likes war.”
Although the sold-out luncheon motivated protesters to go inside and “catch Heller,” frequent visitors and other customers filled the casino instead.
“We got word there would be protests,” said Jonathan Boulware, general manager of Gold Dust West.
“We welcome the protests as long as everyone is well behaved.”
Overall, the protest went well, said Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong.
“I want to make sure the local business know we’re here to support them,” he said. “Gold Dust West is doing an outstanding job of facilitating.”