Posts Tagged ‘Heck’

House Passes Rep. Amodei’s Yerington Land Transfer Bill, Measure Now Heads To Senate

By Sean Whaley | 6:01 pm June 19th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The House of Representatives today passed H.R. 4039, the Yerington Land Conveyance and Sustainable Development Act, the first piece of legislation introduced by Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., since taking office after a special election in September 2011.

The measure, as title IX of the Conservation and Economic Growth Act, a larger jobs and public lands package, passed with some limited Democratic support in a 232 to 188 vote. The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would mandate the fair market sale of approximately 10,400 acres of public lands to the City of Yerington and Lyon County for economic, recreational and cultural development.

Sixteen Democrats supported the bill in the House vote.

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., a co-sponsor of the Yerington bill, supported the omnibus bill. But Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., another co-sponsor of the land transfer proposal, voted against the act, which rolled 14 different bills into one.

Berkley said in a statement that she is a strong supporter of the land transfer measure and that it was unfortunate it could not be voted on as a single bill.

“It is extremely unfortunate the House did not have the opportunity to vote on this important job-creating measure except as part of a larger legislative package that has no chance of passing in the Senate and faces strong opposition in Nevada,” she said. “I am eager to continue working closely with Congressman Amodei and other members of the Nevada delegation to pass this crucial legislation in the near future.”

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who sponsored companion legislation for Amodei’s bill, criticized Berkley’s no vote. Heller and Berkley are locked in a tough race for the Senate in the 2012 general election.

“Shelley Berkley needs to explain why she sided with environmental groups over northern Nevada,” Heller said. “Instead of supporting legislation that would have created jobs in Yerington, she chose to side with the League of Conservation Voters. This is typical Shelley Berkley, saying one thing and then doing another. Today she cast another vote in a long string of votes where she stubbornly refused to acknowledge that people in Nevada are actually hurting.”

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.

In remarks on the floor, Amodei said the land transfer is expected to assist in the creation of 800 high-paying mining jobs in Lyon County, which leads Nevada in unemployment at 16.3 percent. Nevada leads the nation among states in unemployment.

“Eight hundred jobs, no cost to the federal government,” he said. “This is a state where there are loan guarantees for renewable energy to the tune of $1.5 billion and we’ve got 136 jobs to show for it. Eight hundred jobs, no cost to the government.”

Amodei responded to criticisms by House members who opposed the bill on various grounds, including a requirement that the transfer of the land by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to Yerington be accomplished within 90 days of the bill’s enactment.

“So you want to change the bill to ‘if you feel like doing it go ahead, and by the way, take as much time as you want’,” he said. “No thank you. No thank you to ‘if you feel like it and take as much time as you want’.”

Heller also issued a statement welcoming the favorable House vote.

“This legislation is an example of how Congress can act to encourage job growth, and I am pleased the House passed this measure,” he said. “Mining is the backbone of Nevada’s rural economy and we are fortunate to have resources in our own backyard for economic development. Nevada has led the country in unemployment for the past 32 months, and Congress should focus on every opportunity available to create jobs.”

The City of Yerington and Lyon County are seeking the transfer to leverage the substantial infrastructure investments being made by Nevada Copper at its nearby Pumpkin Hollow project.

Nevada Copper, which broke ground on the Pumpkin Hollow project in February, invested nearly $50 million in exploration to justify the $1 billion investment necessary to fully develop the mine. The mine will produce 250 to 300 million pounds of copper per year.

The initial shaft sinking is already producing economic benefits with the creation of 30 to 40 jobs. An additional 250 to 500 construction jobs could start in 2013 if the land transfer is successful. At full operation in 2015-2016, Pumpkin Hollow is projected to employ 750 to 800 people directly.


Audio clips:

Rep. Mark Amodei says a 90-day transfer requirement is reasonable:

061912Amodei1 :11 as you want.”

Amodei says the measure will create 800 highly-paid mining jobs at no cost to the federal government:

061912Amodei2 :15 to the government.”





Tarkanian Wins 4th Congressional GOP Race, Lee Upset By Democrat Challenger In State Senate 1 In Nevada Primary

By Sean Whaley | 11:02 pm June 12th, 2012

CARSON CITYDanny Tarkanian narrowly beat out state Sen. Barbara Cegavske in the 4th Congressional District GOP primary today, surviving a tough challenge in the contest to see who will face Democrat state Sen. Steven Horsford in the November general election.

4th Congressional GOP candidate Danny Tarkanian.

The son of former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, Tarkanian overcame bad publicity surrounding news that he and his family face a $17 million judgment in a civil real estate case out of California.

The race was close, with Tarkanian ending up with 32 percent of the vote to 28 percent for Cegavske. Cegavske won the more populous Clark County in the district which also stretches across much of rural Nevada. Tarkanian made up the difference with strong showings in the rurals, including Esmeralda, Lyon, Mineral and White Pine counties.

But Tarkanian faces an uphill battle in the new congressional district created in Nevada as a result of the 2010 census. The district, composed of parts of Clark County and several rural counties, has a 113,000 to 90,000 Democratic voter edge as of the close of the primary.

The big surprise of the night may have been the overwhelming defeat of state Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, in the Democratic primary against newcomer Patricia Spearman. Spearman had 63 percent of the vote to 37 percent for Lee.

The contest is expected to be decided with Spearman’s primary victory because of the strong Democratic voter edge in the district.

Progressive activists targeted Lee because of his conservative stand on some social issues. Spearman’s victory, however, won’t alter the political landscape as Republicans and Democrats face off in several other Senate districts in the effort to take control of the 21-member house in 2013.

The Nevada Priorities PAC, which supported Spearman in her underdog challenge, said Lee was their initial target because of his weak voting record on issues relating to education, civil rights, the environment and women’s choice.

“Voting records have consequences,” said Priorities PAC spokesperson Annette Magnus. “When we have a so-called friend abandon us on issue after issue, we were left with little recourse but to launch an independent campaign to educate primary voters.”

Lee raised more than $208,000 for his re-election bid, while the Nevada Priorities Political Action Committee raised $86,000. Spearman raised less than $14,000.

The statewide primary featured very low turnout by registered voters statewide. Fewer than 20 percent of active voters cast ballots in the primary.

There were no surprises in the other state Senate primary battles, with the toughest challenge in the GOP Senate District 9 contest, where Mari Nakashima St. Martin fended off Brent Jones. The race featured allegations of “partying” by St. Martin, while Jones was questioned about whether he took advantage of a mentally disabled man more than a decade ago by selling him two ostrich eggs for $30,000 to establish an ostrich farm.

The race pitted GOP Senate Caucus favorite St. Martin against Jones, an avowed opponent of new taxes. St. Martin had 54 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Jones.

A similar GOP primary battle occurred in Senate District 18, where Assemblyman Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, defeated Assemblyman Richard McArthur, R-Las Vegas, and Conrad Vergara. Hammond was the GOP Senate Caucus choice who voted to continue a package of expiring tax hikes in 2011, while McArthur ran as a no taxes candidate who opposed the package.

Hammond had 56 percent of the vote to 41 percent for McArthur.

For Democrats, Kelli Ross defeated Donna Schlemmer in state Senate 18 and will face Hammond in a district that has a Republican voter registration edge.

The Senate races are critical to both Republicans and Democrats to determine who controls the Senate in the 2013 legislative session. Democrats currently have an 11-10 edge.

The other three state Senate races in play between the parties are Senate 5, 6 and 15. The party primaries in Senate 5 and 6 had no surprises. Senate 15 in Reno had no primary. Republicans need to win four of the five races to take an 11-10 edge in 2013.

In some of the other races and issues facing voters around Nevada, the Laughlin incorporation vote went down to defeat. Residents of the community 90 miles south of Las Vegas rejected the idea of forming their own city by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent.

There were no surprises in the other congressional races. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., both won their primaries in the Senate contest.

Former Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., had no opponent in the 1st Congressional District. She will face Republican Chris Edwards in November.

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., won his primary in the 2nd Congressional District and will face Democrat Samuel Koepnick.

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., was easily winning his primary in the 3rd District and will face Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, in November.

In the two State Board of Education races, Allison Serafin and Ed Klapproth, were leading among five candidates in District 3 in Clark County, with 31 percent and 21 percent of the vote, respectively. Both will appear on the November ballot.

In the District 2 race in Northern Nevada among five candidates, current board member Dave Cook had 31 percent of the vote and Donna Clontz had 25 percent. Both will be on the November ballot.

Former Lt. Gov. and Regent Lonnie Hammargren had just over 50 percent of the vote in the race for the Board of Regents in District 12. Andrea Anderson was second in the four person race with 28 percent of the vote.

The only other upset in the legislative races occurred in Douglas County in a three-way Republican primary, where incumbent Kelly Kite lost to challenger Jim Wheeler. Kite was targeted for his vote in 2011 to continue a package of expiring taxes.


Nevada’s GOP House Reps Disappointed At Short-Term Deal On Payroll Tax Cut, Jobless Benefit Extension

By Sean Whaley | 7:55 pm December 22nd, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s two Republican House representatives today said politics won out over policy on the newly announced deal for a 60-day extension on a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefit extension.

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said: “I will apologize in advance for what people are going to be going through 60 days from now because we have resolved nothing. And I predict the discussion 60 days from now will not only mirror this one, but you will also have a large revenue package which will be a condition to approving any sort of extensions for a year or two years.

“Nothing has changed, and it’s sad,” Amodei said. “We have done nobody any favors. As many commentators have said, you’re right on the policy but you’re wrong on the politics. Hopefully there will be a day when the policy rules the roost and not the politics but that’s probably a naive thing too.”

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., said he was prepared to remain in Washington to reach a long-term solution to the extensions.

Courtesy of Kmccoy via Wikimedia Commons.

“The whole time my primary concern was making sure that we had a one-year extension for the folks back home,” he said. “That was the No. 1 priority. And it seems that in typical Washington fashion that politics trumped out over doing the right thing.

“I don’t think folks back home should suffer because Washington wants to get home for the holidays,” Heck said. “I made no secret about my desire to stay and get the job done. I’ve been away from my family; I’ve been deployed over the holidays; it’s not fun. But doing the right thing isn’t always fun or easy.”

Despite his disappointment at the short-term fix, Heck said Congress worked collaboratively in approving the Defense Authorization Act, and he has confidence in the House conferees appointed to work on a more permanent solution to the tax cut and unemployment benefit extension by a Feb. 29, 2012 deadline.

Heck said that if the Senate sends over members who are willing to look at the policy reforms approved by the House in its Dec. 13 bill, “that we will be able to come to a conclusion hopefully by the end of January.”

Both Amodei and Heck are now back in Nevada for a recess that will run through mid-January.

Amodei said he is still in the process of assessing the deal announced earlier today that will lead to the House endorsement of the Senate measure to extend the tax cut and unemployment benefits. Amodei said he plans to issue a formal statement tomorrow after he is confident about the details of the deal.

The House may be able to approve the Senate legislation by a process called unanimous consent, which will not require House members to return to Washington, DC, for a formal vote.

The deal means the continuation of both a payroll tax cut for 160 million workers and a 99-week unemployment benefit for two million jobless Americans.

Other comments on the deal came from President Obama and other members of Nevada’s representatives in Congress.

President Obama issued a statement that said in part: “This is good news, just in time for the holidays. This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs. This is real money that will make a real difference in people’s lives.”

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who supported the 60-day extension, said: “I am pleased the House is moving forward with the Senate’s bipartisan compromise. Extending the payroll tax and unemployment insurance will benefit Nevadans greatly. Now that Congress has moved beyond this impasse, we can work on a year-long extension.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said: “I am grateful that the voices of reason have prevailed and Speaker (John) Boehner has agreed to pass the Senate’s bipartisan compromise.

“Year-long extensions of the payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance and Medicare payments for physicians has always been our goal, and Democrats will not rest until we have passed them,” he said. “But there remain important differences between the parties on how to implement these policies, and it is critical that we protect middle-class families from a tax increase while we work them out.”

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev. said: “While its good news this massive middle class tax hike has been averted, this is one more example of why Washington doesn’t work. This should have been a no-brainer, but instead Tea Party Republicans held Nevada’s middle class families hostage to their extreme Wall Street agenda. The middle class should not be a bargaining chip for DC political games.”


Audio clips:

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., says the deal resolves nothing:

122211Amodei1 :32 or two years.”

Amodei says he believes a large revenue package will be part of the next round of discussions:

122211Amodei2 :27 naive thing too.”

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., says his goal all along was a one-year deal:

122211Heck1 :15 the right thing.”

Heck says Congress should have got the job done:

122211Heck2 :14 fun or easy.”

Heck says he is hopeful the conference committee will reach a deal by the end of January:

122211Heck3 :32 month of March.”


In Case You Missed It: The Week in Nevada Politics

By Elizabeth Crum | 1:36 pm October 8th, 2011

And what a week it was! You’re sure to have missed at least one or two of the following items. And if I forgot something, feel free to post it below in Comments, along with your…comments.


I’m working on a blog post including links to the latest that I’ll get up by Monday, Dear Readers. Documents are flying and quite a bit has happened since Sept. 21 when a Carson City judge ordered public hearings on the matter.

If you want to attend the public hearing still scheduled for Las Vegas, it’s Monday, Oct. 10, at 9:30 a.m. in the Grant Sawyer building, 555 E. Washington Ave., Room 4401.

In Carson City, the public hearing will be Tuesday, Oct. 11, in room 4100 of the Legislative Building, 401 S. Carson Street.

Or you can find links to live broadcasts here.


After Florida jumped ahead to Jan. 31, South Carolina scheduled on Saturday, Jan. 21, and Nevada settled on Saturday, Jan. 14. Then, Iowa yesterday set their caucus date for Tuesday, Jan. 3. This creates a problem for New Hampshire which has a statute saying their primary has to be at least seven days before the next primary/caucus. If New Hampshire schedules on Tuesday, Jan. 10, Nevada’s caucus will fall just four days later.

Presidential Race and Related Matters

George and Jeb were in town. The former gave a speech and then went to see his old pal Sheldon Adelson at the Venetian; the latter mostly hung out with Gov. Sandoval including headlining a big ($600,000) fundraiser, also at the Venetian. (Ralston wrote up some of Jeb’s remarks after his tour of Agassi Prep.)

Team Ron Paul is up with their first TV ad. No word (yet) on the size of the buy in Nevada.

Herman Cain is on the rise.

Immigration matters. Romney v. Perry.

Stuart Rothenberg says he thinks the electoral vote advantage goes to Romney in a match-up against Obama.

A Tea Party Express spin-off group (numerous TPX staffers migrated) called Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama put out a YouTube ad called “Liberal Mitt’s Greatest Hits.” Safe to say, they aren’t Romney fans.

SuperPACs galore.

U.S. Senate

“Senate in chaos” says Politico. Procedurally speaking, that is. By a 51-48 vote, the Senate voted (along party lines) to change the precedent and limit how amendments can be considered once a filibuster is defeated. This after the GOP tried to tie up the Chinese currency bill by tacking on unrelated amendments. (Both parties have done plenty of this kind of thing at various times over the years.)

CSM wrote about it, too.

Is prayer the Senate’s only hope?

China’s currency meddling and related legislation was a topic in the Berkley-Heller Senate race this week.

Berkley out-raised Heller by nearly double in Q3. She now has $3.2 million cash on hand. Heller has $2.8 million. And let’s not forget all the money that will be spent here by the NRSC, DCSC, and various IEs and SuperPACs.


Amodei: Got Committees?

The Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, on which Rep. Joe Heck sits, this week held a hearing to explore ways to modernize the nation’s job-training system. Here’s video of Heck questioning witnesses.


Clark County is moving forward, making NBC and ABC (no, not the TV networks) happy in their PLA/union fight. Interesting stuff.

Our thanks to the LVRJ for running Sean Whaley’s story on Medicare fraud.


Carson Judge Russell Expected To Rule Quickly On Redistricting Guidelines, Sets Public Hearings For Oct. 10-11

By Sean Whaley | 3:14 pm September 21st, 2011

CARSON CITY – Racial gerrymandering, fracturing, packing, nesting – a three-hour hearing today in Carson City District Court over how to draw Nevada’s new political boundaries was full of arcane concepts and obscure terminology.

The much anticipated ruling from Judge James Todd Russell on guidelines for drawing those new districts will have major ramifications, however, for the state’s voters and its two major political parties.

The purpose of the hearing was to decide what factors a panel of three citizens must consider when drawing the state’s political lines for four congressional and 63 legislative seats based on the new population figures from the 2010 U.S. Census.

Attorneys for Democrats and Republicans used the terminology to make their cases for how the new political lines should be drawn. Most of the hearing focused on the four congressional seats that must be drawn for the 2012 general election. Nevada earned a 4th seat due to population gains over the past decade.

Time is of the essence in the dispute, with the election season set to get under way early next year.

Attorney Mark Hutchison, representing the Republican Party, argued that the Hispanic community in central Las Vegas should form the basis for one of the four congressional districts in any new redistricting plan.

Attorney Marc Elias, representing Democrats, argued that while communities of interest should be considered, there is no requirement in the federal Voting Rights Act that a predominantly Hispanic district be created.

Special Master Thomas Sheets, from left, GOP attorney Mark Hutchison and Democrat attorneys Mark Braden and Marc Elias confer after the redistricting hearing today. / Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau.

After the hearing, Hutchison said: “The court is going to take care to make sure this process is fair and from the beginning that’s all the Republicans have wanted, for the process to be fair. We want to start with a level playing field and let the chips fall where they might. We’re just opposed to any sort of a partisan Democratic slant to this process and I think we got that today.”

Hutchison said he will not appeal Russell’s ruling on how the redistricting process should be carried out by the special masters.

Elias declined to say whether he would appeal Russell’s ruling on the guidelines for the special masters on how to draw the maps.

“I always take these things one step at a time,” he said. “I’m here today and I’m going to wait for the ruling.

“Look, you heard the same thing I did – I think he said he was going to take this under advisement, he obviously listened attentively, he said he was going to do some research and then I expect we will hear from him.”

Russell has appointed the three special masters – Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover, Las Vegas attorney Thomas Sheets and former legislative Research Director Bob Erickson – to draw new political districts.

The issue ended up in the courts when a bipartisan plan could not be hammered out between Democrats and Republicans in the 2011 legislative session.

The Democrat-controlled Legislature passed two redistricting plans, both of which were vetoed by GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval.

While not immediately ruling on the Hispanic congressional district question, Russell did announce some developments in his plan to resolve the dispute.

He announced that the special masters will hold two public hearings, one in Las Vegas on Oct. 10 in the Grant Sawyer State Office Building, and the other Oct. 11 in the Carson City legislative building, to take comment from interested parties on what Nevada’s new districts should look like.

Following those hearings, the special masters will have until Oct. 21 to submit new political maps to the court. Russell said he will then release their report and proposed maps to the public.

Russell said that by Nov. 15 or 16 he will decide whether to accept the maps as drawn by the special masters or send the issue back for any specific revisions he deems necessary.

Regardless of how he rules, the redistricting issue is expected to end up in front of the Nevada Supreme Court, and could be appealed into the federal court system as well.

Elias asked Russell to use Senate Bill 497, the second redistricting measure passed by Democrats but vetoed by Sandoval, as the starting point for the special masters to draw new districts.

Hutchison and other attorneys representing Republicans rejected the idea, saying the maps approved for the 2001 redistricting, along with the many sets of maps proposed this year by lawmakers and citizens, could all be considered by the special masters as a starting point.

Attorney Daniel Stewart, representing Clark County resident Daniel Garza, who opposed SB497, said the congressional districts in the bill inappropriately “fractured” the Las Vegas Hispanic community into three different districts to create three safe Democrat congressional seats.

“This is a perfect example of what I think the masters shouldn’t do,” he said.

But Elias warned that any effort to focus exclusively on creating one Hispanic congressional district could lead to “racial gerrymandering” which would put any plan approved by Russell at risk for a federal court challenge. It is not possible to draw a congressional district in Las Vegas that would have a majority of eligible Hispanic voters, he said.

There is also no evidence of block voting by white residents that has thwarted the efforts of Hispanics to elect candidates of their choice, Elias said, noting the election of Sandoval, who is Hispanic.

One of the experts cited by Republican as evidence of block voting by whites was the election of former state Sen. Bob Coffin to the Las Vegas City Council in Ward 3, defeating Hispanic candidate Adriana Martinez in the process, he said. But the expert failed to note that Coffin is of Hispanic heritage himself, Elias said.

“Nevada is not Mississippi,” he said. “There is no white block voting in Clark County.”

Attorneys also argued their positions on other issues, including whether two state Assembly districts should be drawn to fit exactly within each state Senate seat, a process called “nesting.”

They also argued whether “representational fairness”, or consideration of how many “safe” seats each political party should have, is appropriately before the special masters.

A number of prominent Democrats have either announced or are said to be interested in running for the Southern Nevada congressional seats even though the district lines have yet to be drawn. Already announced candidates include Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, former Rep. Dina Titus who lost to Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., in the 2010 election, state Sen. John Lee of North Las Vegas and state Sen. Ruben Kihuen of Las Vegas. Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford of Las Vegas is also said to be interested in running for Congress.


Audio clips:

GOP attorney Mark Hutchison says Republicans want a level playing field:

092111Hutchison :25 got that today.”

Democrat attorney Marc Elias says Judge Russell listened attentively and will issue his ruling after conducting some research:

092111Elias :15 hear from him.”

Democrat Congressional Candidate Oceguera Says He Will Face Off Against GOP Incumbent Heck In 2012 If Necessary

By Sean Whaley | 3:40 pm August 17th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Assembly Speaker and announced candidate for Congress John Oceguera acknowledged today that a number of Democrats are seeking seats in the House of Representatives in the 2012 election, and that hopefully any costly primary battles can be avoided.

Oceguera, who announced in July he will run as a Democrat for Congress despite the fact that lines for what will ultimately be four districts remain theoretical only, said a primary battle between two Democrats for one or more of the seats would not be beneficial.

While unlikely, a primary battle is a possibility and Oceguera said he is prepared for such a scenario. But a primary would not help any of the candidates, and hopefully could be avoided “in the spirit of cooperation,” he said.

Former Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., has announced she intends to run again for a seat in Congress. State Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, is also an announced candidate. State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford and state Sen. Ruben Kihuen, both D-Las Vegas, are also potential candidates for one of the seats.

Democrat Assembly Speaker John Oceguera.

Oceguera made his comments during an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.

The district lines remain undecided because the Legislature failed to approve a redistricting plan based on the 2010 census that met with approval of both Democrats and Republicans. Two Democrat plans were vetoed by GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval. The issue is now in front of Carson District Judge James Todd Russell with no clear timetable on when it will be resolved. It will likely end up before the Nevada Supreme Court.

Oceguera said he does not know what district he will end up in, but that he may have to face Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., who represents the 3rd Congressional District. Heck is a freshman who defeated Titus in the 2010 election.

Oceguera, who lives near Heck in Clark County, said he is not concerned with the possibility of facing an incumbent in his congressional run. Oceguera, who is termed out of the state Assembly, is a North Las Vegas firefighter, attorney and fourth generation Nevadan, born in Fallon.

Heck’s district has elected both Republicans and Democrats, he said.

“Where ever I end up, as far as where the maps are drawn, is where I will run,” Oceguera said.

Ryan Erwin, a political consultant to Heck, said in response to Oceguera’s comments: “Commenting on every Democrat candidate looking for the title of Congressman would be a full time job.

“Dr. Heck has been spending his time helping constituents and trying to get the federal government out of the way of small businesses trying to create jobs,” he said. “The truth is, creating an environment that allows Nevada businesses to grow, invest and hire new employees is far more important to Joe Heck than who might run against him next year.”

Oceguera announced his intention to run in July, saying it would be too late to mount a competitive campaign if he waited until the redistricting issue is decided. While fundraising is difficult in such an uncertain situation, waiting until the 2012 filing period next spring is unworkable, he said.

Oceguera said it will take between $2 million and $3 million to run a competitive race, and that he expects to have about $250,000 by the first reporting period.

Oceguera said he is running on his legislative record, including job creation efforts in the 2011 session, and on his history of hard work and desire to seek compromise on issues facing the state.

“It is something we’re sorely missing in Washington, DC, right now,” he said.

Oceguera said he and his fellow lawmakers fulfilled their promises in the 2011 legislative session.

“We said we were going to cut – we did, we cut,” he said. “We said that we were going to reform – we did, we reformed. We said that we were going to balance our budget – we did, we balanced our budget. And we said we were going to end on time and we did that as well. So I think that is a pretty strong record in the last legislative session.

“I’ve been strong on education, I think I’ve been strong for business,” Oceguera said. “I don’t know that that’s all I will run on, but I think my legislative record is solid.”

Audio clips:

Congressional candidate John Oceguera says the Legislature fulfilled its promises in the 2011 session to balance the budget, cut spending and make reforms:

081711Oceguera1 :25 last legislative session.”

Oceguera says he is strong on education and for business:

081711Oceguera2 :09 record is solid.”

Nevada Delegation Splits On House Speaker Plan To Reduce Federal Spending, Raise Debt Ceiling

By Sean Whaley | 6:41 pm July 28th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., announced today he will back a spending reduction plan put forth by House Speaker John Boehner because it proposes a balanced budget amendment that will protect the United States’ AAA credit rating.

A vote on the plan scheduled for today was delayed, however.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the plan is “dead on arrival” in the U.S. Senate if it passes the House.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., opposes the Boehner plan. Nevada’s third congressional district is currently vacant.

In announcing his support for Boehner’s plan to cut federal spending and raise the debt ceiling by an Aug. 2 deadline, Heck said: “Default is not the real problem – the real problem is the potential for a downgrade to the United States’ AAA credit rating. What would it mean to Nevadans if the United States lost its AAA credit rating? If the United States loses its AAA credit rating, interest rates will rise on everyday items such as credit cards, car loans, student loans, small business loans and mortgages.”

In a conference call with reporters today, Heck said: “And I have full faith in the speaker’s leadership and I think that given the hand that he was dealt, with the constant to and fro with the White House, that he has got a plan on the table that accomplishes the necessary goals to prevent a downgrading of our credit report.”

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev. / Nevada News Bureau file photo

Boehner’s plan only calls for a vote in the House and Senate on a balanced budget amendment.

Heck said the actual spending reduction in the plan is only a first step. The real solution to reducing federal spending is a balanced budget amendment.

“I think the House plan is an excellent down payment,” he said. “It’s by no means the final payoff. And I think the way we eventually fix this issue is to pass the balanced budget amendment and have it ratified by the states.”

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev. / Nevada News Bureau file photo

Berkley told the Las Vegas Review-Journal she did not like the two-step process to raise the debt ceiling because it would require another round of debate a few months down the road.

Audio clips:

Rep. Joe Heck says Boehner’s plan will prevent a credit downgrade:

072811Heck1 :20 our credit report.”

Heck says the long-term solution is a balanced budget amendment ratified by the states:

072811Heck2 :16 by the states.”

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera Announces Bid For Congress In As-Yet Undetermined District

By Sean Whaley | 5:17 pm July 18th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Term limited Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, today announced he will run for Congress in one of four districts that have yet to be finalized in Nevada’s contested redistricting process.

Oceguera, a native fourth-generation Nevadan, said he wants to bring his skills in finding compromise on difficult issues honed in the Nevada Legislature over the past nearly dozen years to the House of Representatives.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera announced today he will run for Congress.

“I think what I bring to the table is kind of a common sense approach,” he said. “I think I’ve been successful in finding solutions in the Legislature and I think I will be successful in Congress.

“I think Nevadans are kind of fed up with the way it’s going in DC and I’m looking to help the middle class, the folks that rely on social security and Medicare,” Oceguera said. “I believe that they deserve someone that will fight for them and that’s what I intend to do.”

Oceguera, an assistant fire chief in North Las Vegas, said he decided to announce his candidacy even though the Nevada redistricting process is in the courts, where it could remain for some time before finally being decided.

“I’m of the belief that redistricting is going to be wrapped up in the court system for a number of months, and that might put us all the way as far as next year,” he said. “And you really can’t start a congressional campaign in the same year that the election is going to be held. You have to get started.”

Oceguera currently resides in the 3rd Congressional District represented by Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., but he said that could change by the 2012 election. Oceguera said he will challenge Heck if that is where he ends up.

“But I think it is really too soon to know one way or the other where we’re going to be because we have no idea how those lines are going to be drawn at this point,” he said.

The Democrat-controlled Nevada Legislature sent two redistricting bills to GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval, but they were vetoed out of a concern the proposals violated the federal Voting Rights Act. The issue is now in Carson City District Court and will likely be decided by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Oceguera’s announcement prompted Amy Tarkanian, chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party, to describe him as a career politician “looking for a new gig.”

“Oceguera’s bid for Congress, made before even understanding or caring about the constituency he claims to want to represent, is an action of a termed-out assemblyman who is panicking at the thought of losing one of his government paychecks,” she said.

Tarkanian criticized Oceguera for attempting to push through a $1.3 billion tax hike in the 2011 session.

“Oceguera’s colleagues rejected his proposal then and Nevadans will reject him in 2012,” she said.

In response, Oceguera said public service is “not a bad thing.”

“I’m proud of what I’ve done as a fire fighter and the people I’ve helped,” he said. “I’m proud of what I’ve done in the Legislature and the Nevadans I’ve helped there and I want to continue that service. Certainly if I wanted to go into the private sector and make money that’s what I would be doing, but I choose to go and serve the public and I think that record speaks for itself.”

Audio clips:

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera says he can’t wait for redistricting to be resolved before starting a campaign:

071811Oceguera1 :24 to get started.”

Oceguera says he brought a common sense approach to compromise in the Legislature and will do so in Congress:

071811Oceguera2 30 successful in Congress.”

Oceguera says he is proud of his public service:

071811Oceguera3 :29 speaks for itself.”

Oceguera says Nevadans are fed up with what is happening in Washington, DC:

071811Oceguera4 :20 intend to do.”


Nevada’s “Actual” Unemployment Rate Hit 22.3% In Third Quarter

By Sean Whaley | 2:05 pm October 29th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s “actual” unemployment rate in the third quarter of 2010 increased to 22.3 percent from 21.5 percent in the second quarter, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows a much worse unemployment situation in Nevada and nationally because it includes workers who are too discouraged to seek employment and have given up searching, and workers employed part time for economic reasons.

The number is generated as a three-month average every quarter.

The monthly unemployment report for Nevada for September, released a week ago, showed the state’s jobless rate at 14.4 percent, unchanged from August and still the highest in the nation. But the monthly jobless report underestimates the number of unemployed because it only estimates unemployed workers who are actively seeking employment.

In citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics data when the July Nevada jobless rate was reported, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) said: “Despite the historic run up in the unemployment rate, the reality of the recession’s impacts on Nevada’s workforce is much worse than presented.

“Use of the alternative measure of unemployment for research purposes is limited since the information is only available for the past five years, so comparisons to past recessions is not possible,” DETR reported. “But, from a policy perspective, the actual unemployment rate presents a more complete picture of what is currently occurring in the economy.”

Stacey Standish, a press information officer for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, said the numbers for the quarterly report are generated from a survey of 60,000 households nationwide. The 22.3 percent rate for Nevada, which is 16.8 percent nationally, includes part-time workers who want to work full time, and discouraged workers who have not actively sought employment over the past year, she said.

Nevada is tops in the nation in the Labor Statistics report, followed by California at 22.1 percent and Michigan at 21.3 percent.

The grim data comes out just days before the Nov. 2 general election, where the economy and jobs have been the major focus of candidates.

The state’s record high unemployment rate, combined with Congressional approval last year of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is aimed at reducing the national jobless rate, have become major campaign issues in the Nevada Senate race between Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and GOP challenger Sharron Angle.

The effectiveness of the stimulus spending also came up in a recent debate between Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., and GOP challenger Joe Heck in the Congressional 3 race. Heck called the stimulus bill a failure at generating jobs. Titus said the state’s unemployment rate would be much worse without the jobs created through the stimulus legislation.

Both Reid and Titus are locked in dead-heat races with their opponents.

Some of the stimulus projects have also been criticized as being wasteful, including a tree planting project in Clark County first reported by the Nevada News Bureau that made a GOP list of the top 100 worst projects nationwide.

The majority of the nearly $2.5 billion stimulus funds received by the Nevada have not gone to job creating projects. The money has spent on Medicaid caseloads and jobless benefits as specified in the legislation. Three jobless related programs alone account for nearly $1.3 billion in total spending in Nevada.

The federal stimulus reporting website shows 9,300 jobs created in Nevada from the stimulus funding through June 30.

The September 2010 Nevada unemployment report showed a total of just over 1.1 million jobs in the state, nearly 24,000 fewer jobs than in September 2009.

Nevada Stimulus Spending Is Election Focus But Effectiveness In Dispute

By Sean Whaley | 1:51 pm October 25th, 2010

CARSON CITY – The question of how well the Gibbons administration has done in quickly and efficiently deploying Nevada’s share of stimulus dollars is difficult to quantify.

Gibbons, a Republican who is leaving office in January, was criticized by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., in a debate Wednesday for failing to move quickly to spend stimulus dollars. Titus said the bottleneck was not at the federal level, but at the state level. Congress specifically chose to put the money into existing programs to get it moving quickly to create jobs, she said.

Gibbons defended his handling of the nearly $2.5 billion in stimulus funds awarded to the state so far, saying: “The stimulus funds awarded to Nevada were spent and are being spent as expeditiously as possible in order to create as many new jobs as possible.”

Nevada’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act website shows the state has actually received and spent about $2 billion of the total awarded through June 30, 2010.

The majority of the stimulus funds received by the state have already been spent not on job creation projects, but on Medicaid caseloads and jobless benefits. Three jobless related programs alone account for nearly $1.3 billion in total spending in Nevada.

Titus is not alone in her criticism of Nevada’s efforts under Gibbons to quickly use stimulus funds to create jobs, especially early on in the process. The act was approved by Congress in February 2009.

In a letter to Gibbons on Oct. 1, 2009, Jim Oberstar, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, cited Nevada as a state that was not doing a good job in spending the funds, ranking 47th of 51 based on an analysis of the percentage of recovery act highway formula funds put out to bid, under contract and under way.

Nevada received about $201 million in stimulus funding for road projects.

“I strongly urge you to refocus your efforts to implement the Recovery Act and use the available funds to create and sustain family-wage jobs,” Oberstar said in the letter.

The state Democratic Party criticized Gibbons for the report as well, but Dan Burns, a spokesman for the governor, said in October 2009 the information was inaccurate. He also criticized Nevada Democratic leaders for bringing in stimulus money that put the state 50th per capita for its allocation of funding.

The Nevada Department of Transportation announced in February of 2010 it had obligated its entire stimulus funding a month ahead of schedule. The agency announced in May that stimulus funds will have created or saved 5,600 construction jobs by the end of the year.

The state was also questioned about its slow pace on spending nearly $19 million in stimulus funds for neighborhood weatherization projects. As of November of 2009, the state had spent less than $1 million and risked losing the money.

But the program moved into high gear, and Gibbons announced in May 2010 that the State Office of Energy and the Nevada Housing Division had received letters from the U.S. Department of Energy commending their efforts at quickly and efficiently spending the stimulus funds.

Nevada was identified as one of a small group of states that had 100 percent of its award through the environmental permitting process finished and 75 percent or more of the funds obligated.

“These accomplishments are a testament to your team’s strong planning and management,” U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program Director Mark Bailey said. “DOE applauds Nevada’s State Energy Office for your success and commends your hard work.”

John Restrepo of the Restrepo Consulting Group in Las Vegas, said the Gibbons administration may have been slow in getting going on spending the stimulus funds, but that the state has probably done as well as any other in getting the money into the economy.

Restrepo, who also serves on the State Economic Forum, a panel charged with predicting Nevada’s tax revenues for the next two years, said for him the bigger issue with the stimulus is whether it was big enough.

“In my humble opinion it was not large enough,” he said. “It was a tepid response in adding employment and addressing the longer term problem of our antiquated infrastructure.”

What can’t be proved conclusively about the stimulus spending is whether the state and national unemployment pictures would be worse without it, Restrepo said. Speaking as an analyst, Restrepo said he believes the recession would have been worse without the funding.

“The stimulus did some of what it was supposed to do,” he said. “We could have done better.”

Nevada State Controller Kim Wallin, a Democrat, said there is no way to compare how Nevada is doing on spending its share of stimulus funds with other states because there are no uniform reporting requirements.

But Wallin, who has some oversight responsibilities for the stimulus spending, does post a weekly report on her website showing the amount received for each project and the amount spent. Some agencies have not moved quickly to spend the money, she said.

The state Energy Program, for example, has been awarded $34.7 million but expended only $16.9 million as of Oct. 15, Wallin said.

A number of wildland fire fuel reduction projects under the direction of the state Department of Agriculture show low expenditures as well, she said.

While some agencies have done a good job of obligating and expending their funds, a number of other programs do not show any significant spending yet, Wallin said.

 “The whole idea of the stimulus was to get the money spent as quickly as possible to create jobs,” she said.

Jim Groth, director of the state Office of Energy, said Nevada is in the top 10 states in terms of expending its energy-related stimulus funds. In addition to the nearly $35 million for a variety of projects and programs, the office received another $9.5 million in energy efficiency and conservation block grant funds, he said.

The state has until April 2012 to spend the money, and it will all be put to use long before that deadline, Groth said.

The projects funded by the stimulus funds, and their progress, are updated weekly on the agency’s website, he said.

The job-creation programs have different deadlines by which the money must be expended and are included on the controller’s stimulus spending webpage. Some deadlines have already expired, while other projects run through 2014.

During the Wednesday debate in the closely watched District 3 race, Republican challenger Joe Heck said the stimulus act is not working nationally or in Nevada, as evidenced by the loss of jobs and high unemployment rate. Nevada leads the nation in unemployment, which remained unchanged at 14.4 percent in September.

The September report, released Friday, shows Nevada had nearly 24,000 fewer jobs than in the same month the year before.

Titus said the situation would be worse without the stimulus spending approved by Congress.

Titus also rejected any suggestion that District 3 has seen only minimal job creation from the stimulus.

The federal stimulus reporting website shows District 3 shortchanged in job creation, reporting only 187 jobs in the three months ending June 30. But that is because most of the state stimulus money flows through the state capital in Carson City, so the jobs are counted in District 2, represented by Dean Heller, R-Nev., who voted against the stimulus bill. The district shows 8,674 jobs created during the same period.

Nevada District 1, represented by Shelley Berkley, showed 439 jobs created.

Titus, Heck Spar Over Attack Ads, Stimulus Bill In Debate

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 9:12 am October 21st, 2010

(Updated at 11:45 a.m. on Oct. 21, 2010, to include Gov. Gibbons comments.)

Questionable attack ads and the role of the federal government in job creation were the top issues in an energized debate Wednesday between Rep. Dina Titus and Republican challenger Joe Heck in one of the most closely watched house races of the Nov. 2 general election.

Titus, D-Nev., was questioned about an ad criticizing Heck, a physician, for failing to support an insurance company mandate to cover a cervical cancer vaccine while serving in the Nevada state Senate. The ad says Heck is, “dangerous to women.”

Titus said she stands by the ad, which came about after Heck opposed a bill requiring insurance companies to provide the vaccine. Heck opposed the coverage as another costly insurance company mandate that would increase the cost of health care.

Heck said also there were concerns about the new vaccine and potential side effects and noted that Titus received a campaign contribution from a group supported partly by the CEO of the company that makes the vaccine after her favorable vote.

Heck was challenged about an ad suggesting that Titus, who supported the health care reform law in her freshman term in the House, voted to provide taxpayer funded Viagra to convicted sex offenders.

Heck said, under the bill, rapists can get the drug and Titus voted for the bill.

In the debate on the  Face To Face television program, host Jon Ralston said the ad is inaccurate and has been denounced as a distortion of reality. He urged both candidates to denounce the two ads.

Both candidates in the 3rd Congressional District race refused to budge from their defense of the ads, which are being run by third party groups and not the candidates themselves.

In the discussion of the ads, Titus also said the group paying for the Heck attack ad is clearly identified but the company running the ad against her on the health care bill, the American Action Network, does not have to disclose its donors.

Titus said the house has passed the Disclose Act to identify such donors and she said Heck opposes the measure.

“As his running mate likes to say, ‘man up’, sign up, put your name on something that you want to say,” she said.

Heck responded that he has had no discussions and taken no position on the Disclose Act.

“The only thing that has been true in the Congresswoman’s commercials are the phrase when she says, ‘I’m Dina Titus and I approve this message’.”

The Heck-Titus race is viewed as key as to which party will control the House of Representatives after the Nov. 2 election. Polls show the race is close.

Titus and Heck, who were colleagues in the Nevada state Senate, also sparred over the stimulus bill approved by Congress in February 2009.

Heck said the economy has gotten worse since the bill was passed, while Titus said the economy would be much worse off without the jobs provided by the $787 billion spending measure.

Titus said the bill has created jobs in Nevada, adding that a staff member with ”your own governor from Nevada,” identified 2,000 teaching jobs that have been saved in Clark County. Titus also criticized Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons and his administration for the slow pace of much of the stimulus spending.

Ralston later replied, “he’s not just my governor, either, by the way, he’s your governor too.”

Titus lost to Gibbons in her bid for governor in 2006.

Gibbons said today in response:  “Again Dina Titus does not know what she is talking about. The stimulus funds awarded to Nevada were spent and are being spent as expeditiously as possible in order to create as many new jobs as possible.

“Dina Titus should be embarrassed that her influence garnered Nevada the distinction of being the state that was awarded the lowest amount of stimulus funds per capita,” he said. “She has done nothing to help Nevada families.”

Heck said his role as a member of Congress would be to craft policy to allow the private sector to create jobs. Heck said President Obama made the same point in September.

Heck said reasonable regulations are appropriate, but some regulations, including those in the new health care law, will burden small business.

Titus said her job as a member of Congress is to create jobs given the terrible state of the economy. Tax breaks, for small businesses in the stimulus bill, for hiring returning veterans and the unemployed, are ways Congress can help create jobs, she said.

GOP Congressional Candidate Joe Heck Admits Race Will Be Close, Reaches Out To Undecided Voters

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:58 pm September 27th, 2010

Republican Congressional candidate Joe Heck said today he expects the race between him and incumbent Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., to be decided by no more than 2 percentage points in the November general election.

Heck, a physician and former state lawmaker who served with Titus in the Nevada Senate, said on the Nevada NewsMakers television program today: “It’s going to be a neck and neck race.”

“So we’re working hard on the folks that we need to reach out to, the undecideds, the nonpartisans, we’re doing well in those groups, and we think that is what is going to carry us to victory on Nov.2,” he said.

Heck said he does not know if the Tea Party Express will back his campaign, but that anything the group does to energize Nevada voters will benefit him in the Congressional District 3 race against Titus, who is completing her first term.

“Anything that movement does to energize the conservative vote to turn out will have a trickledown effect in CD3,” he said.

Polls show the two candidates in a statistical tie. The race is considered a key to which party will control Congress following the mid-term election.

Heck said the federal health care law has some positive elements, such as requiring coverage for preexisting conditions, but that too much of it is flawed. An example is the requirement for younger healthier people to pay substantially more for coverage to support older participants with more costly medical conditions, he said.

“There is $1 billion in this bill appropriated to the federal government for the cost of implementation of the bill,” he said. “So any bill that is going to cost $1 billion to implement certainly has some flaws.”

Heck said if he is elected to Congress his approach to the health care law will be to repair those good sections that have flaws, repeal unworkable elements and replace those parts that are good in concept but that need more realistic solutions.

Heck, who has been criticized by Titus backers for a vote in the Nevada Senate in 2007 to oppose requiring health insurance companies to cover a new cervical cancer drug, said the statements ignore his real legislative record in support of reforms to improve access to health care. There were concerns about potential side effects from the drug, he said.

“They want to pick one vote on one issue and try to make it seem I was against women in heath care when actually I was standing up for women in health care,” he said.

Heck said mandated coverages drive up the cost of health insurance and Nevada has a high number of mandates already.

Audio clips:

Republican Congressional District 3 candidate Joe Heck says his race against Titus will be close:

092710Heck1 :14 on Nov. 2.”

Heck says any Tea Party Express efforts in Nevada will help him in his race:

092710Heck2 :22  on Nov. 2.”

Heck says the new federal health care law has flaws:

092710Heck3 :09 has some flaws.”

Heck says he worked in the state Legislature to improve access to health care:

092710Heck4 :07 in health care.”

Straw Poll Results from Friday’s KDWN-hosted GOP Debate

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:02 am May 3rd, 2010

A straw poll was taken during the KDWN GOP Debate help Friday night at the Orleans. 595 ballots were returned out of 800 distributed. The results (winners in bold text):

CD 1

Fiore 12.7 %

Lake 29.6 %

Tatner 57. 7 %

CD 3

Bridges 27.1%

Heck 72.9 %

U.S. Senate

Angle 27.1%

Chachas 21.3%

Christensen 10.6%

Lowden 16.1%

Tarkanian 24.9%

Prediction: Mitt Romney Coming Soon to a State Near You

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:24 pm April 21st, 2010

By the way, on the tail of Jeb Bush coming to Vegas this week to raise money for Brian Sandoval, and word that AZ Senator Jon Kyl will be coming to Las Vegas May 8 to do an event for Sue Lowden, and a press release today announcing that Mitt Romney’s PAC endorsed Krolicki, Heller, and Joe Heck…I’m going out on a thin limb and predicting that Mitt Romney will soon be visiting the Silver State to raise money for Heck.  And shake hands and make friendly in advance of his 2012 run for POTUS.

Titus Has Raised $1.3M, Has 3-to-1 Money Edge Over Heck

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:40 am April 13th, 2010

As Flashed by Ralston just now, Titus has:

$900K on hand

And raised:

$250K in first quarter

Ryan Erwin told the RJ this weekend that Heck had $170K cash on hand at end of ’09 and that he raised $160K during Q1.

Which reminds me to recap and comment on the Heck-Titus results from the Mason Dixon poll released this weekend.

First, the poll results and what the RJ said about them:

– Heck would get 49% of the vote if the election were held today; Titus would take home 44%; with 7% un­decided. The survey had a 6 percentage points margin of error.

– A previous Mason-Dixon poll in December showed a Titus-Heck matchup in a 40-40 dead heat.

– 45% had an unfavorable opinion of Titus compared with 15% for Heck.

– Titus won both the popularity — and the unpopularity — contests. 41% had a favorable view of Titus versus 34% favorable for Heck.

– 300 voters in CD-3 were surveyed.

So it looks like Heck may have the edge.  But it should be noted that the sampling was pretty small and the margin of error (MOE) was +/- 6 points.

(FYI:  A sampling of 500 is pretty much the standard minimum for a poll if you want a MOE below 5% (and you usually do). When the big pollsters do national surveys, they call at least 1,000 peeps to get an MOE of +/- 3.)

The thing with these Heck-Titus numbers is that 49-44, with an MOE of 6 points, could also be 55-38.

Or 43-50.

Bottom line, Heck may or may not really be leading by 5 points.