Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada’s tough road to reelection was hit with a new twist Tuesday.
Danny Tarkanian, a Nevada businessman and perennial political candidate, announced on “Fox & Friends” Tuesday that he would mount a primary challenge to Heller in 2018.
Tarkanian has run for office in Nevada five different times for a variety of offices. His latest bid in 2016 for the seat in Nevada’s 3rd congressional district came up just shy. Tarkanian lost by about 1 point to Rep. Jackie Rosen, who is Heller’s most likely Democratic opponent for the Senate seat.
During his announcement on “Fox & Friends,” Tarkanian said that he is running because Heller wavered in his support of President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, something that has continued during Trump’s tenure.
“We’re never going to make American great again unless we have senators in office that fully support President Trump and his America first agenda,” Tarkanian said on the show, which Trump has been said to watch frequently.
“Dean Heller wasn’t just one of the first ‘Never Trumpers’ in Nevada, he was one of the most influential. He actually helped Hillary Clinton win the state of Nevada,” Tarkanian said.
Tarkanian pointed to Heller’s record on the Senate Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Heller came out strongly against the GOP bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), in a press conference the day after it was released.
Heller eventually voted for another Republican healthcare plan, but Tarkanian said the damage was already done.
“Even after President Trump has been elected, Dean Heller has obstructed his agenda,” Tarkanian said on Fox News. “That grandstand press conference he had derailed any momentum to get the healthcare bill repealed. We need people who will support the America first agenda and I will be that person.”
A pro-Trump PAC initially created ads to attack Heller for his opposition to the bill, a move that drew the ire of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who asked the White House to get the ads pulled.
Heller already faces a stiff challenge from Rosen, his likely general election opponent, in a state won by Hillary Clinton. Tarkanian’s entry could make Heller look to move to the right.
Tarkanian’s announcement came on a morning when Trump retweeted clips or stories from “Fox & Friends” three times. But even as Tarkanian looks for backing from the president, he will likely face resistance from Republican congressional leadership. A super PAC associated with McConnell plans to back Heller in 2018.
Watch Tarkanian’s announcement here:
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