Ivanka Trump becomes an attack line in Nevada GOP primary

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller's Republican primary challenger is trying to tie him to Ivanka Trump as a way to cast him as ...

Posted: Feb 22, 2018 10:33 PM
Updated: Feb 22, 2018 10:33 PM

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller's Republican primary challenger is trying to tie him to Ivanka Trump as a way to cast him as too liberal.

Danny Tarkanian, in a local radio interview on Wednesday, invoked the first daughter's politics in an attempt to undercut Heller's claims of strong working relationships with President Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump.

"Dean Heller's saying that he talks to Trump on the phone all the time; talks to Ivanka Trump all the time," Tarkanian told KBET host Kevin Wall. "Well, Ivanka Trump was a Democrat, and she's very, very moderate to liberal, compared to the Republican base."

By casting the first daughter as out of touch with conservatives, Tarkanian demonstrated his effort to capture voters who bought into Trump's campaign pledges and are loyal to the President, but suspicious of those around him in Washington -- particularly on Capitol Hill.

The jab at Heller -- the nation's most endangered Republican senator in this year's midterm elections -- comes ahead of a June 12 primary, with the winner poised to face Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen in November.

In an email, Tarkanian told CNN he "did not say nor mean to infer a relationship with Ivanka is a bad thing. It is a good thing. She is the daughter of the President."

"But," he added, "she is a registered Democrat and more moderate than the GOP base, which means her political views are probably similar to Heller's views, because he is a moderate to liberal." Ivanka Trump told CNN in 2016 that she is an independent who has always voted based on the candidate and not the party.

Heller's campaign didn't respond to a request for comment on Tarkanian's remarks.

Tarkanian's comments were reminiscent of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's own very thinly veiled jab at Ivanka Trump.

In December's Alabama Senate special election, Ivanka Trump reacted to the child molestation accusations against Republican Roy Moore by saying that "there is a special place in hell for people who prey on children." Three weeks later, her father endorsed Moore, saying he didn't believe the allegations. Bannon evoked that split on the eve of the election, telling Alabama Republicans that there is a "special place in hell for Republicans who should know better."

Still, the tactic seems at odds with the GOP electorate: Ivanka Trump is viewed favorably by 81% of Republicans, a January CNN poll found.

Tarkanian's argument that Heller has been insufficiently supportive of Trump is at the heart of his primary challenge.

And for months, it seemed like he had a point.

Heller, who endorsed Jeb Bush, then Marco Rubio, had been critical of Trump during the 2016 election. He skipped the Republican National Convention, then said weeks before the election that he was "99% against Trump" (though he'd say 10 months later that he voted for Trump after all).

Most famously, in a news conference with the national political world watching, Heller stood beside Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and announced his opposition to an Obamacare repeal bill last summer, effectively sinking Trump's first health care effort.

Trump, in turn, embarrassed Heller at a White House meeting on health care. With the Nevada senator seated next to him, he predicted Heller would reverse his stance and vote for a new health care bill because "he wants to remain a senator, doesn't he?"

The personal animosity dissipated, though, when Trump, Heller and Reps. Kevin McCarthy of California and Mark Amodei of Nevada flew together on Air Force One to Las Vegas in October, in the wake of the mass shooting there.

On that flight, Trump and Heller had a long conversation and moved past their differences, several sources briefed on the matter said.

"They talked through their differences," said Michael McDonald, the Nevada GOP chairman. "Anything they had."

Heller discussed the plane ride himself at a news conference shortly after arriving in Las Vegas, saying he'd highlighted the work of first responders to the President.

"I had a rare occasion to be at 30,000 feet with a couple hours of face time with this particular president," Heller said then.

Heller later cozied up to Ivanka Trump as well, joining a group of Republican senators who dined at her Washington home last fall and working with her on several issues afterward.

Since then, Heller's votes have closely aligned with Trump's priorities.

His name was on a later version of the GOP's health care legislation. He was a staunch advocate for the tax bill that Trump signed into law in December. And Heller -- who voted for immigration reform in 2013 -- has voted against two compromise immigration efforts this year, but voted for Trump's plan.

Heller's recent loyalty to Trump appears to have paid off: At a recent Republican National Committee gathering in Washington, Trump told members at a closed-door meeting that he intended to visit Nevada to campaign for Heller ahead of the June GOP primary.

Tarkanian, the son of a legendary UNLV basketball coach, says he isn't buying any of it -- and doesn't believe Trump is, either.

"Since I got into the race, Heller has done everything he can to patch up his strained relationship with the President; however, I believe the President is too smart to buy it and is just appeasing Heller for his votes," Tarkanian said. "The President knows, as do Nevadans, that if Heller wins the primary, on June 13 he will be the same DC Dean, catering to the whims of moderates and Democrats in hopes of their votes in the general election."

Huntsville
Few Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 63°
Florence
Overcast
67° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 67°
Fayetteville
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 61°
Decatur
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 62°
Scottsboro
Overcast
63° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 63°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 134231

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19572348
Mobile13320292
Montgomery8811183
Tuscaloosa8586117
Madison782078
Shelby592349
Lee588759
Baldwin545650
Marshall393343
Calhoun349942
Etowah343945
Morgan327328
Houston280221
Elmore265947
DeKalb240620
St. Clair230835
Walker230683
Talladega214628
Limestone208820
Cullman189020
Dallas178326
Franklin176729
Autauga175725
Russell17573
Lauderdale169833
Colbert164126
Blount160815
Escambia160324
Chilton156431
Jackson156011
Covington138527
Dale135844
Coffee13206
Pike119410
Chambers116142
Tallapoosa115685
Clarke108916
Marion95729
Butler91639
Barbour8737
Winston73812
Marengo71620
Pickens65614
Lowndes65327
Bibb65210
Randolph64213
Hale63428
Lawrence61623
Geneva6074
Cherokee60313
Bullock59914
Monroe5848
Clay5797
Washington55613
Perry5416
Crenshaw53632
Conecuh53511
Wilcox53111
Henry4935
Macon48119
Fayette4508
Sumter43519
Lamar3662
Cleburne3646
Choctaw34912
Greene30315
Coosa1683
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 189454

Reported Deaths: 2352
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby30613455
Davidson26381303
Hamilton937494
Knox929875
Rutherford924089
Williamson519836
Sumner479497
Wilson345344
Putnam327740
Montgomery304544
Unassigned29474
Bradley291417
Out of TN284426
Madison283264
Sevier259615
Blount250424
Maury232923
Washington227635
Robertson220335
Sullivan214833
Hamblen189926
Tipton180519
Trousdale16537
Gibson163622
Hardeman155826
Wayne14955
Dyer135014
Bedford132817
Dickson125015
Coffee121013
Cumberland119218
Fayette118319
Weakley117619
Henderson116924
Anderson116513
Carter115828
Obion115610
Loudon11546
Greene114244
McMinn111325
Jefferson111014
Warren10477
Macon104620
Monroe103018
Lawrence102312
Hardin102216
Lauderdale97916
Haywood96819
Franklin9639
Lake9182
Roane8854
McNairy87618
Carroll87420
Bledsoe8544
White8309
Rhea82112
Cheatham80510
Hawkins79618
Marshall7495
Cocke7439
Overton7355
Smith71311
Johnson6962
Chester62310
Henry6189
Lincoln6111
Giles59117
Hickman5738
DeKalb56114
Crockett53619
Marion5258
Decatur5127
Fentress4933
Claiborne4415
Campbell4394
Polk38810
Grainger3723
Union3531
Benton3369
Jackson3245
Morgan3153
Unicoi2851
Cannon2830
Grundy2835
Humphreys2463
Sequatchie2312
Meigs2263
Clay2245
Houston2143
Scott2132
Stewart1982
Lewis1961
Moore1691
Van Buren1640
Perry1500
Pickett1142
Hancock1063

Community Events