Jewish Democrat Slammed for Politicizing Las Vegas Shooting as Key Nevada Senate Race Turns Ugly

Nevada senate candidates trade barbs as must-win race for the Democrats to regain control of the U.S. Senate tightens in the polls

Representative Jacky Rosen, a Democrat from Nevada and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, center, greets supporters ahead of early voting at Cardenas Supermarket in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Saturday, May 26, 2018
Bridget Bennett/Bloomberg

In Nevada, Jacky Rosen, the Jewish congresswoman challenging Dean Heller for his U.S. Senate seat, came under attack this week and hit back hard as one of the most closely-watched contests of the 2018 midterm elections heats up. Heller is the only Senate Republican incumbent at risk of losing his seat - a must-win for the Democrats to flip the current 49-51 seat Senate in their favor.  

Rosen was attacked over remarks she made about comforting the families of victims of the Las Vegas shooting attack at an out-of-state fundraiser in a Seattle synagogue on July 30. Local critics attacked Rosen for politicizing the tragedy by implying her past role as a synagogue president made her more qualified to comfort the victims’ families than other officials.  

In a video obtained by the Nevada Independent, Rosen tells her audience that she “channelled” her “inner rabbi” when figuring out how to console the victims of the devastating attack last October as “none of the other politicians” did.

Rosen has in the past credited her experience as a synagogue president as preparing her for public office.

“I was thinking, ‘What would Rabbi Akselrad say? What would my cantor say?’ whether at a funeral, a bedside, or whatever. So I just, they put me in front, and I just did that and it was, because I knew. I’d been there,” said Rosen, who served as president of her synagogue for three years, before running for Congress in 2016.

“None of the other politicians— they said, ‘What do we do?’”

The paper’s editor Jon Ralston slammed Rosen for “puffing” herself above “the other politicians” who she had described as asking “what do we do?”

Ralston wrote: “In a place far from her home where she thought no one would know better, she came off as someone who grossly exaggerated her role on a terrible evening, simply to make herself look good. I wonder what her rabbi would say about that.”

On Tuesday, the National Republican Senate Committee released its first attack ad against Rosen, calling her description of her pre-Congress resume “full of hot air,” following up on a story in the Reno Gazette-Journal, which found little documentation to back up Rosen’s claims of having run a business.  

But Rosen didn’t merely play defense on attacks against her this week, she hit Heller hard herself, attacking him repeatedly for reversing his position on health care during the Senate’s vote last year, and saying that Heller himself would be “repealed and replaced.”

With the midterms less than four months away, the Rosen-Heller match-up is likely to be one of the most costly in the country. Rosen’s Jewish religion, Heller's Mormon faith in a state with a strong church presence, and the influence of Sheldon Adelson are all wild cards in what is certain to be a dramatic campaign. Last week, Rosen was endorsed and publicly embraced by former President Barack Obama.

The latest polls have shown the two politicians locked in a virtual tie.