Heller expects campaign boost from Bush visit
RENO – After draining his war chest of $1 million in a tough primary battle, Secretary of State Dean Heller expects his congressional campaign to get a “tremendous amount of help” from a fundraising visit today by President Bush.
“It will get the conservatives, the Republicans, the independents excited about the election season. That’s critical,” Heller said. “Second, it’s going to raise money.”
Jill Derby, Heller’s Democratic opponent in the 2nd Congressional District, said Bush’s visit will help Heller by raising funds, but it also shows Republicans are worried about the seat.
“They have a reason to be (worried),” Derby said. “We’re getting our message out there that a vote for Dean is a vote for more of the same.”
Bush is scheduled to arrive today at Reno-Tahoe International Airport and plans to speak at a reception for Heller at the Mercury Air Center. Admission is $250, and photos with Bush will cost a hefty $2,100.
Eric Herzik, a Republican political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, said Bush’s visit will help Heller but added the candidate could end up being sidelined in the same way that Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Carter was when his father, former President Jimmy Carter, campaigned for him last week.
“The coverage of the Jimmy Carter visit was all about Jimmy Carter. Jack Carter barely got in there,” Herzik said.
Heller acknowledged that he would be the political under card.
“I won’t be disappointed if I am overshadowed, in fact, I anticipate being overshadowed,” he said. “This is about President Bush. It is about what his message is. It’s his message about terrorism. It’s his message about economy.”
Heller said Bush’s visit shows the importance party leaders are placing on keeping the seat in Republican hands. Democrats need to gain 15 seats nationwide to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“They want to retain this with a fellow Republican that has the right message on immigration, the right message of taxation, the right message on the war on terror and they feel I’m the right candidate to do that. To have them here stumping for me is beyond my biggest dreams.”