Our choice for U.S. Senate: Jacky Rosen

Congresswoman Jacky Rosen, D-Nev, candidate for Senate, speaks during a gun violence roundtable with Capt. Mark Kelly, his wife former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords, gun violence survivors, student activists, and community leaders at UNLV Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018.
Photo: Steve Marcus

Amid the hyperpartisan trench warfare in Congress and the Trump-fueled polarization of U.S. politics, Jacky Rosen shines as a reason for hope that Washington can be fixed.

As a uniquely calm voice who strives for bipartisanship, she’s an antidote to the diseases that have infected the nation’s politics. At a time when insults, slurs and lies have hijacked civil discourse and party battles have mired Congress in dysfunction, Rosen is a throwback leader who has worked across the aisle to an exceptional degree while others have dug in to serve their party over the interests of the people they represent.

Make no mistake, Rosen has a strong backbone and will confront bad behavior. But she always tries to find solutions first.

Although much of her campaign for U.S. Senate has focused on the faults of her opponent, Sen. Dean Heller, Rosen is an exceptional candidate on her own merits. Frankly, she hasn’t spent as much time as we would like in explaining to Nevadans why she should be their next senator, so we feel compelled to step in.

Although her opponents have characterized Rosen as a puppet of Democratic leadership, particularly House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, the attack is inaccurate and unfair.

In an independent analysis based on the number of bills cosponsored by House members, Quorum Magazine ranked Rosen No. 5 in bipartisanship among freshman members. She joined the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group available only to lawmakers who join with a member of their opposing party. She’s also one of only 13 Democrats who were eligible for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit of Enterprise Award. Keep in mind, there are 193 Democrats in the House.

And while it’s true that Rosen and Pelosi aligned on many issues—as did all Democrats—ProPublica reported that Rosen broke ranks on 38 major votes, including on such issues as Veterans Affairs whistleblower protection and tax cuts for small businesses and middle-class families (both of which Rosen favored). In those and other cases, Rosen voted independently and prioritized Nevadans’ best interests ahead of partisan politics.

This is the kind of leader Nevada—and every state—should have in Washington.

Rosen also has been a champion of women’s issues, strongly opposing efforts to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood and supporting the Affordable Care Act. Her experience in the male-dominated profession of computer technology also shows in her work in the House, such as the bipartisan Code Like a Girl Act, which was aimed at encouraging girls under 11 to study computer science.

Furthermore, Rosen has a deep and wide-ranging understanding of Southern Nevada’s needs. She worked for a time as a food server at Caesars Palace early in her adult life, and later served as president of Congregation Ner Tamid, the largest Jewish reform synagogue in the Valley.

On gun safety, Rosen’s support of such reasonable legislation as a ban on bump stocks earned her an F grade from the NRA, while the organization gave Sen. Dean Heller an A and its endorsement.

On immigration, Rosen’s leadership includes speaking out against child detention at the U.S.-Mexico border, calling for a permanent solution to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and pushing back strongly against Trump’s travel ban.

Her initiatives on climate science and renewable energy include bills to repeal Trump’s tariffs on solar panels and extend the electric vehicle tax credit. She also has helped lead opposition to the administration’s efforts to downsize the Gold Butte and Basin and Range national monuments, two of Nevada’s natural jewels.

Rosen has been a consistent defender of the groups that have been targeted by Trump and right-wing extremists—women, immigrants and Muslims, among them. Simply put, a vote for her is a vote against the spread of Trump’s brand of authoritarianism and division, and for the return of bipartisanship in Washington.

Nevada needs her. The nation needs her as well.

President Donald Trump embraces Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., during a rally at the Las Vegas Convention Center Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018.

Sen. Dean Heller is unfit to serve Nevada

With his visible lack of character—as displayed with his flip-flops on the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood, and his full embrace of President Donald Trump’s extremist agenda—Heller has proven to Nevadans that they can no longer trust him to represent their interests.

After initially making the right call by saying he “vehemently” opposed Trump during the 2016 campaign, Heller rolled over when Trump threatened his job for holding out on GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare.

The threat came July 19, 2017, when Trump told Heller “you’re going to be there” on the repeal effort and then remarked, “He wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?”

Grinning emptily, Heller sat beside the president, clearly willing to throw his state under the bus to become a puppet for Trump. The sheer cowardice of this moment was stunning, with Heller buckling instantly and not putting up the slightest fight for his state.

This has hardly been the only example of Heller flip-flopping. One important example came during a town hall in April 2017 when Heller stated, “I have no problems with federal funding for Planned Parenthood” and “I will protect Planned Parenthood,” but then immediately backtracked and said he would “continue to look at the issue.”

A more recent example came when Heller described sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a “hiccup” in the judge’s confirmation process, then had to put out a statement the next day saying he did not believe “sexual assault allegations of any kind are a hiccup.”

Among Heller’s acts of quivering cowardice, his flip-flops on Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act remain the most haunting illustrations of his weak character. At first, he joined Gov. Brian Sandoval, a moderate Republican, in sharply criticizing the Republicans’ initial repeal bill, saying, “I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans.” Yet all it took was a harsh glance from Trump for Heller to break with Sandoval and other moderates and vote for the skinny repeal—which, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would have removed health care coverage for 16 million Americans and boosted premiums by 20 percent over the next 10 years.

It took the bravery of Arizona’s late senator, John McCain, to stop the skinny repeal madness.

The bottom line: Although the TV ad portraying Heller as a tube man blowing in the wind was played for comic effect, it was dead-on accurate.

You can’t be for Planned Parenthood and the thousands of Nevada women who rely on it as their primary health provider, for instance, and also be for Trump’s view that it should be vanished like a magic act on the Strip.

You can’t be for immigration reform—a critical issue not only to Las Vegas’ primary industry but also to hundreds of thousands of people living in Nevada—and also be for Trump’s barbaric idea of reform, which is to separate children from their parents at the border and confine them to cages with little hope of reunification.

In a national climate filled with hate and invective, with a sitting senator who defies Nevada’s needs and values, Rosen is an antidote. She is a candidate not filled with hate. A candidate who stands for working together to solve our problems, a candidate who keeps Nevada’s issues close to her heart and stands on principle.

Nevada deserves a senator like Rosen, who has a firm grip on Nevada’s issues, believes strongly in working with others and possesses impeccable character and values.

It is time to put the political bankruptcy of Heller’s behavior behind us and look toward a better future with Rosen.

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.
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