Pro-Trump group pulls ads against Dean Heller over health care bill, says he's 'back to the table'
A political nonprofit linked to President Donald Trump says it’s withdrawing a planned $1 million ad blitz against Republican Sen. Dean Heller, saying they were pleased he “decided to come back to the table” after coming out against the Senate bill replacing the Affordable Care Act.
America First Policies — which is run by a group of former Trump campaign staff — backed down from an aggressive campaign against Heller, who alongside Gov. Brian Sandoval on Friday said he couldn’t support the Senate version of a bill that would substantially alter the federal health insurance law.
The group launched a digital ad campaign targeting Heller over the weekend, and on Tuesday unveiled a radio and television ad campaign designed to pressure the Nevada Republican to support the Senate bill shortly before pulling the ads.
“America First Policies is pleased to learn that Senator Dean Heller has decided to come back to the table to negotiate with his colleagues on the Senate bill,” the group said in a statement. “We have pulled the ads we released earlier today in Nevada, and we remain hopeful that Senator Heller and his colleagues can agree on what the American people already know: that repealing and replacing Obamacare must happen for America to move forward and be great again.”
South Dakota Sen. John Thune suggested to reporters that Heller had brought up the ads during a Senate Republicans meeting with Trump on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for Heller’s senate office didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment. Heller’s campaign Facebook posted on Monday that he was continuing to work with his colleagues and the administration on the bill.
“I believe that Obamacare needs to be replaced, but I do not think that the current Senate bill, as drafted, is the best we can do,” he wrote. “I don't think the bill in its current form does enough to lower health care costs for Nevada families and it does not do enough to protect Nevadans on Medicaid.”
On Friday, Heller said the bill was “simply not the answer” and said the proposed rollback of expanded eligibility for Medicaid could lead to more than 200,000 Nevadans losing health insurance.
HELLER is back at the table, but far from being a "yes," per two Republicans close to the process. Willing to discuss concerns.
— Robert Costa (@costareports) June 27, 2017
At least nine Republican senators, including Heller, have indicated that they’ll oppose the bill as written. If all Democrats vote against the bill as expected, Republicans can only afford to lose two votes of their 52-member majority before failing to pass the bill.
Heller is up for reelection in 2018, and has already attracted a likely challenger in freshman Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen. Fellow congressional Democrat Dina Titus has also expressed interest in the race, and multi-time candidate and businessman Danny Tarkanian is weighing a primary challenge against Heller.
Local and national Democratic groups immediately rushed to criticize Heller over the announcement, with the Nevada Democratic party calling him a “spineless, untrustworthy and self-serving career politician” in an email blast to reporters.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to delay the vote on the bill until after the July 4 congressional recess, according to CNN.
Caption: Senator Dean Heller, right, and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval speak with media inside the Grant Sawyer State Office Building in Las Vegas on Friday, June 23, 2017. Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent.