Nevada's Jacky Rosen Defeats Adelson-backed Heller, Becomes Third Jewish Woman Ever Elected to Senate

She has worked to appeal to pro-Israel voters in her state, saying she, unlike most Democrats, would have opposed Obama’s 2015 Iran nuclear pact

Jacky Rosen speaks after winning her Senate race against Dean Heller in Las Vegas, Nevada, November 7, 2018.
AFP

Jacky Rosen, a Jewish Democrat, defeated incumbent Nevada Senator Dean Heller, becoming only the third Jewish woman elected to the Senate, and the first to be elected from a state other than California.

The first-term congresswoman emerged as a public figure serving as president of the state’s largest synagogue. She has worked to appeal to pro-Israel voters in her state, saying she, unlike most Democrats, would have opposed former U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2015 Iran nuclear pact.

Heller lost despite enjoying the support of the state’s most powerful Jewish resident – casino billionaire and Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, who, together with his wife Miriam, also owns the state’s largest newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Republican held the Nevada Senate seat since 2011 and is the only GOP senator who sought re-election this year in a state that Democrat Hillary Clinton carried two years ago. He was once a critic of President Donald Trump but was banking on the president’s political power to carry him across the finish line.

The race at the top of the ticket drew nearly $100 million in campaign spending — with about $33 million spent by the Rosen and Heller campaigns and an additional $66 million from outside groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

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The spending included a barrage of TV ads, including those from Rosen and her supporters that seized on Heller’s sliding positions on GOP efforts last year to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

People cheer as returns come in for Senate candidate Rep. Jacky Rosen at a Democratic election night party in Las Vegas, Nevada, November 6, 2018.
John Locher,AP
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Heller drew backlash from the president and his supporters when he initially refused to vote for Republican plans in Congress to repeal the law passed under Obama, which has helped 400,000 Nevadans gain health insurance coverage.

Trump later threatened Heller’s re-election chances, and the senator went on to support other attempts to repeal the law.

Heller highlighted Rosen’s light track record in the House and her decision to run for his seat after only six months on the job. He also emphasized the partisan battle over U.S Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanagh, citing his vote for the new justice and Rosen’s opposition. He also pointed out that the bulk of the money Rosen raised has come from people living in New York and California.