Heller wins by a nose | NevadaAppeal.com

Heller wins by a nose

Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal Dean Heller, Republican candidate for Congressional District 2, watches for the results of the primary election at his campaign headquarters Tuesday night. Heller was in a tight race with Republican Challenger Sharron Angle for the party's nomination to the November election.

In the closest statewide race of the 2006 Nevada primary, Secretary of State Dean Heller squeaked out a 400-vote victory over Assemblywoman Sharron Angle in the Republican contest for Jim Gibbons’ U.S. representative seat.

Third in the race was Gibbons’ wife, Dawn.

Angle, an anti-tax advocate, got about 90 percent of her funding for her campaign from out-of-state conservative causes, primarily the Illinois-based Club for Growth. It was that money – more than $1 million – which helped her pull even in the polls during the final days of the campaign.

“Dawn and I were outspent 4.5 to 1 in the last two weeks,” said Heller. “It was very difficult to overcome that.

And much of that was in the form of ads attacking both Heller and Gibbons, charging they were liberals on taxation and spending.

Heller and Gibbons responded in kind, making for what all observers described as an especially nasty primary.

But a bit of campaign strategy helped Heller pull out the victory.

Watch video from Dean Heller’s headquarters on election night:


Although Angle managed a 2,000 vote lead in her home-base of Washoe County, the final extra votes she hoped for in the absentee ballots never materialized.

Heller said after the count was finished, he had personally called every absentee voter in Washoe County to ask their support.

With just results from Mesquite at the southern tip of Clark County missing, Heller’s margin was 427 votes – 24,771 to 24,344. Gibbons, in third place, had 17,320 votes.

Heller faces Democrat Jill Derby, an 18-year veteran of the Nevada university system’s board of regents, in the November general election.

He said he expects the issues will stay much the same, topped by the need to do something about illegal immigration.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.