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Rosen tries to balance progressive impulses with practical state during run for Senate

Humberto Sanchez
Humberto Sanchez

Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is running for a Senate seat in a state that President Donald Trump barely lost, says she’ll always vote in Nevada’s best interest even if that means going against her party’s leadership should she be elected to the Senate.

“I’m going to put Nevada first,” Rosen, a Democrat, said in an interview with The Nevada Independent on Tuesday, comparing representing Nevada to being the parent of an only child.

“We have 50 states and they are great and wonderful...but my state is the best and my state is the one I need to protect first, so I am always going to put Nevada first,” she said. “Nevada’s my child and that’s who I have to watch out for and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Her bid to take on Republican Dean Heller is anticipated to be among the most competitive races of this election cycle. To mount an effective challenge, she’ll need to balance some of her more liberal impulses, such as siding with undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, known as DREAMers, who are hoping for certainty after President Donald Trump ended an Obama-era program shielding them from deportation, against the political reality of operating in a state with a pragmatic streak that elected a Republican governor in 2010 and 2014, and one that Trump lost by about 2 percentage points.

She’s shown herself to be a capable fundraiser. Rosen has managed to nearly double the amount of money raised by Heller between October and December. Rosen raised $1.56 million, while Heller raised $820,000, according to Federal Election Commission reports. It’s the second quarter in a row that she has raised more than Heller, who still has much more cash on hand.

Her voting record suggests that Rosen has tried to walk a line. An analysis by The Nevada Independent of votes she’s taken to pass legislation on the GOP-controlled House floor through early 2018 showed that she was the most likely, about 25 percent of the time, of Nevada’s three Democrats to vote with Republican Mark Amodei. But she still voted with Democrats about 70 percent of the time.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP campaign arm, is trying to paint Rosen as a liberal, contending that Rosen votes with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi 90 percent of the time when all votes, including procedural ones, are counted. NRSC spokesman Michael McAdams also took issue with Rosen’s opposition to the Republican tax cut law, which has spurred a raft of companies to give bonuses to employees, and her recent vote against a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open.

“Jacky Rosen is living up to the nickname ‘Reckless Rosen’ repeatedly ignoring the needs of Nevadans to vote with Nancy Pelosi 90 percent of the time,” said McAdams. “By denying middle-class families the opportunity for bigger paychecks and voting to shut down the government, Rosen has proven she is completely unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate.”

According to a report from Quorum Analytics, a Washington-based firm specializing in legislative tracking and analysis, Rosen is the fifth most bipartisan member elected in 2016. The reports said that 41 percent of the legislation Rosen has co-sponsored was introduced by a Republican.

Currently representing Nevada’s 3rd Congressional, which Trump won by one percent in 2016, Rosen, 60, calls herself a “common sense Democrat” and believes her life experience, which includes working as a computer programmer in the male-dominated tech industry, taking care of elderly parents, and running the state’s largest synagogue, keep her in touch with the issues that matter to voters.

“I’d like to think I have common sense, and what I worry about is that people forgot what families deal with right at the kitchen table,” she said. “So I want to put myself in those issues that matter to people in their everyday lives.”

Rosen argued that the GOP tax law leaves the middle class behind because the benefits geared towards them expire, such as the increase in the child credit, while tax cuts for corporations were made permanent. Supporters of the tax bill contend that the corporate tax cuts will prove effective because they are permanent and help spur economic growth.

Rosen did not dispute Pelosi’s characterization of the bonuses from the tax bill as “crumbs.”

“In the short term companies are excited about [permanent tax cuts], but I think in the long run you’re going to see companies buying back their stock, maybe hoarding capital paying back their dividends,” Rosen said.

She also noted that the tax bill is expected to raise the cost of health care. The measure included a provision that repealed a provision in the 2010 Affordable Care Act that requires people to carry health insurance or pay a fine. That is set to go into effect in 2019.

With government funding running out in a little over a week, she would not say if she would support the next short-term spending bill. She also would not guess if the government would shut down at midnight February 8.

Most House Democrats, including Rosen, opposed the last stop spending bill to open the government last week, in part, for failing to address the DREAMer issue. Rosen said she was praised by constituents, as a result of the recent three-day shutdown, for standing up for the DREAMers.

“We’re a nation of immigrants,” Rosen said. “We are penalizing these kids, using them as political pawns.”

Latinos are expected to be a significant pillar of the coalition of voters Rosen needs to win, according to John Tuman, chair in the Department of Political Science at UNLV.

“The Latino vote is going to be very important for her, or any Democrat who runs for statewide office” Tuman said. “Many people here, we know from research we’ve done, know people who might be in a removal proceeding, or they’ve been deported...and so they make, sometimes, a personal connection to it in the Latino community and that’s why it also tends to be salient.”

Nevada’s population is 28 percent Hispanic and the fifth largest Hispanic statewide population share nationally, according to The Pew Research Center. The report also noted that there were 328,000 eligible Latino voters in 2016.

The importance of Latinos to her Senate campaign is not lost on Rosen, who is a supporter of the DREAM Act, a measure that would allow DREAMers to stay in the country, as well as those receiving Temporary Protected Status, which was created in the 1990s to allow some foreign nationals from countries facing natural disasters or extreme violence to live and work in the U.S. Trump announced earlier in January that he would end the program for Salvadorans.

Rosen’s guest for the State of the Union was a TPS recipient from El Salvador, Nery Martinez. A Las Vegas resident, Martinez is a bar apprentice at Caesars Palace.

“I was disappointed that the President did not use this opportunity to talk about why it’s so important for Congress to act now to protect Dreamers and bring relief to Nevadans like Nery Martinez, whose family could be torn apart if he loses his temporary protected status,” Rosen said in a release after the State of the Union. “I’m committed to working on smart solutions to the problems facing Nevada families, and I look forward to continuing to fight for my constituents in the year ahead.”

Disclosure: Caesars Entertainment has donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.



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