Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Heller vs. A Balanced Budget

On a recent Nevada Newsmakers the co-host told Heller she was disappointed with his flip-flop on partisanship. She noted that he had been someone who would work across party lines as Secretary of State to get things done but his move to Washington instantly turned him into a lapdog of the GOP.

The 2007 Pay-As-You-Go Bill was designed to ensure that sunlight exposed members with earmarks and that decreasing government revenues could not be passed without a decrease in government spending or an increase in government revenues somewhere else.

How did Heller vote on balancing the budget? NO

Why is this such a big deal? Well, if Heller was suppose to be the 'conservative' choice for Nevada's Second District then the word conservative has taken on a new meaning. If Heller is the poster boy, this vote against openness in government and balanced budgets means conservative now means - increase the future tax at any expense, don't let the people you elected know which pork is yours, and work hard to continue deficit spending. Heller said in the campaign that tax cuts weren't the problem it was spending. Well, Heller had a chance to reign in spending and he refused to.

Bottom line: Heller's vote against the pay-as-you-go legislation means he has no problem with deficit spending meaning he has no problem with you spending more on taxes in the future.

Nevada's other Representatives (Berkley and Porter) voted for it, making Heller NEVADA'S MOST EXPENSIVE REPRESENTATIVE.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

LTE - "Harry Reid had it right"

This letter to the editor was published in the Nevada Appeal today:

Harry Reid had it right

In a recent letter, John Koster labels Sen. Reid a traitor for having, in my view, accurately portrayed the war in Iraq as lost. Mr. Koster is an example of the right-wing noise machine. When they cannot justify the war or otherwise defend Bush's lies (that got us there and are keeping us there), they resort to calling critics traitors.

Mr. Koster goes on to write that Sen. Reid is "an embarrassment to Nevada and (his) constituents."

In my view, it is Congressman Heller who fits that description. Heller is, apparently, quite willing to follow Bush as he leads our nation over the cliff and into the abyss.

Shame on you Mr. Koster. Hooray for Harry Reid.



Friday, May 25, 2007


Steve Sebelius of Various Things & Stuff felt inspired by Heller's recent amendment:

Why does U.S. Rep. Dean Heller hate poetry? Heller brought an amendment to try to head off the $7 million expansion of the Carl Sandburg Home Historic Site in North Carolina, saying that when we add to the federal estate, we add costs. Of course, Heller lost by a decisive margin, 245-183.

Why, the story has inspired us to verse!

And inspired he was:

We think that we shall never see,
A congressman as irrelevant as thee.
Of all the four hundred and thirty-five,
They barely know that you're alive.
At the table of failure, did you sup,
And now its time to shut the fuck up!

Don't you just love poetry?

Join the Helluva Heller - Defeating Dean Heller in 2008 group at the Democratic Party's PartyBuilder social networking site!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Heller continues flip-flopping voting pattern

The Heller Pattern, "I was against it before I was for it," voting system was on full display during consideration of HR 1427, the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act to reform the regulation of government sponsored housing finance programs.

Rep. Heller and Rep. Porter both voted to recommit the bill (aka kill it) on roll call 395 before they voted in favor of it on roll call 396. The measure to regulate the housing finance industry more closely passed 313-104.

Rep. Heller was really out to show his ultra-conservative right wing radical bona fides on the Hensarling Amendment to the Finance Reform Act. [rc 392] Hensarling's language would have deleted the Affordable Housing Trust Fund budgetary placehold language in the bill. Even his sidekick Jon Porter (R-NV) couldn't stomach that one.

Heller and Porter broke their two-man rank on Rep. Kevin Brady's (R-TX) small raid on the affordable housing grant program for victims of Hurricane Katrina, securing 10% for the state of Texas by cutting the allocations for Louisiana and Mississippi by 5% each. Porter voting in favor, and Heller voting no. [rc 389]

Heller Not a Fan of Parks

Dean Heller introduced his first amendment yesterday and failed. The vote tally was 183 in favor and 243 opposed. Not a single Democrat voted for Heller's amendment and 13 of his Republican colleagues opposed it as well.

Heller wanted to play fiscal conservative, which is funny considering his continued support of a multi billion dollar involvement in the civil war in Iraq, by trying to stop money for the expansion of a national historic site in Flat Rock, NC in honor of poet Carl Sandburg. From the LVRJ:

"We need to be cognizant of the fact that every time we add to the federal estate, it spreads our already limited resources even thinner," Heller said.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the additional land for the historic site will cost about $7 million.

"That seven million dollars is desperately needed to manage and maintain the land currently owned by the federal government," Heller said.

The vote on Heller's amendment fell generally along party lines. Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., voted for it. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., voted against it.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said Heller's amendment would shift the entire burden of expanding the historic site to the state of North Carolina, calling that "inconsistent and unfair."

"Inconsistent and unfair" - hey, that's a pretty good description of our Representative. Wonder why we hadn't thought of that before.

Anyhow, you just know that if this historic site were in Heller's district, he'd have supported it. Wanna bet?

But now to the really fun part? Remember Heller's buddy George W. Bush? The one who made sure Heller had enough money to fend of his challenger Jill Derby? Well, turns out he's for expanding the site using federal money. As are North Carolina's two Republican Senators. From the Asheville Citizens Times:

The state’s Republican Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr have introduced a companion bill, which is pending in the Senate. The Bush administration has expressed support for the idea.

Join the Helluva Heller - Defeating Dean Heller in 2008 group at the Democratic Party's PartyBuilder social networking site!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Heller holds a Telephone Town Hall

On Monday night my phone rang, and an automated message from Dean Heller invited me to immediately join a teleconference "Town Hall." Though I chose not to, a friend of mine did participate and sent me this email. Identities withheld.
Junior Congressman Dean Heller took his show on the road last night by staging a “town hall meeting” over the phone with what he felt were his constituents.

My phone rang and I chose to enter the on-line foray. Every 15 minutes, during the session, Dean would interject with EST and that he was calling from his Washington, D.C. office. The only thing out of the dialogue was that it could be along the Potomac River.

The highlight of the conversations I tuned in to including participants from Storey, Lyon and Churchill counties, as he continued to reiterate, was the one I heard from my favorite pair of U.S. Navy veterans residing in Fernley.

M & D F----- are a dedicated couple with whom I became acquainted, volunteering at the Nevada Veteran Cemetery in Fernley.

A dedication to their personal philosophies of life, and a Democratic stance rang out loud and clear during this telephonic episode. We were all told to press “#” and wait until it was our turn to ask a question.

So, when it was the F----- family turn to be put on line D mustered up all the strength that a veteran on oxygen, and a true Democrat would, proceeded to open the conversation with the Congressman: “First of all, I didn't’t vote for you”.

I thought I would fall over in my chair and D continued to calmly express his opinion ... until Dean cut him off and went to the next person queued up to speak with the illustrious Nevada leader.

If there were a Democratic ... or for that matter a voice of reason academy award ... I would give it to Don who stood steadfast to his principals [sic] and that of his wife ... when faced with the challenge.

Also, during the event, participants were given the opportunity to express their opinion about the newly proposed immigration legislation by pressing a button on their telephones. When the polled results were in, there was only one vote for the present proposal ... as sketchy as it may be at this moment.

Obviously, my vote was the only one that stood out in my mind.

In a follow up email with my friend asking permission to post this on the blog, she also informed me:
Also, one of the "callers" was speaking to boycotting gas stations. Heller was enthusiastic (maybe tired...but who contributed to his campaign?).
Then, the caller and Heller narrowed it down to Seven Eleven convenience stores served by CITGO.

Today, I learned that has all changed and the CITGO signs removed? The source of their oil....so the caller contended was Venezuela. Yeah, said Heller we don't want to deal with Communists. It sounded like we were back in the black/red lists of the 1950s...which I remember from having been raised in the backyard of Hollywood, California.

Too bad Dean Heller either didn't know, or didn't want to spoil the moment, by pointing out that 7-Eleven had dropped Citgo months ago. Hell, even Faux News reported it. But let's not let the facts get in the way of a good scapegoating!

X-posted at Blue Lyon

Want to Be "Well Represented" in Congress? Contribute to Dean Heller!

You wouldn't believe it but Dean Heller is being praised by a constituent. James L. Pincock, MD, of Carson City wrote a letter to the editor of the Nevada Appeal which has been published today:

Heller's office was quick to help Nicaraguan patient

In light of recent televised attack ads aimed at Rep. Dean Heller, I thought it might be appropriate to let the public know that some of our elected officials are involved in issues other than the war in Iraq, and actively engaged in service to the citizens of Nevada. My recent experience with Mr. Heller and his office demonstrates a high level of commitment, and considerable experience in negotiating the machinery of state. I would like to briefly share my experience.

I go to Nicaragua once or twice a year on craniofacial surgical missions. On my last trip in November we saw a young man in the clinic with a huge tumor involving his face, throat and skull base. Surgery to remove this tumor could not be safely accomplished in Nicaragua, and arrangements were made to bring the patient to the United States for treatment. At the last minute, problems arose with getting him a visa in time for him to arrive in this country for surgery. Anyone who has dealt with the State Department can attest to the multiple levels of telephone menu bureaucracy that basically preclude any normal citizen from talking to a human being, let alone anyone who might actually be interested in helping to solve problems. Multiple e-mails, letters and calls were ineffective. I realized that I needed someone who could grease the wheels of State, and prompt the appropriate personnel to expedite the visa process for this unfortunate young man. One call to Dean Heller solved the problem.

I have known Dean for many years, and when I called and asked for help, he promised that Verita Prothro, his assistant, would call me the next day. Promises are easy for politicians to make, but I felt cautiously optimistic that help might be available. Verita did call, and together with her assistant, Gloria, immediately contacted the U.S. Consulate in Nicaragua and arranged for an expedited visa interview. Everything happened in an efficient process that helped restore some faith in government. Mr. Heller's staff was interested and involved throughout this process, and without their help, the visa never would have been issued in a timely fashion. They even called after the interview date to make sure that the visas had been issued, and that plans were moving forward.

Dedication, professionalism, competence, and willingness to go beyond the minimal required are traits that are becoming rare in society and especially our government. Rep. Heller and his staff went well above and beyond what others might have done, and have allowed one young man to receive life-saving help. When others might have chosen to not get involved, he and his staff chose to help, a fact for which I am very grateful. Verita and Gloria are part of Mr. Heller's staff in Nevada, and I can only surmise, but if he has surrounded himself in Washington, D.C., with assistants this capable, we will be well served and well represented.

See, we bloggers aren't that evil. We post praise of Dean Heller. We have no problem with that whatsoever.

We just like to do our homework, too. And when you read that "Rep. Heller and his staff went well above and beyond what others might have done" you're truly impressed, unless of course, you forgot what was written a few lines before:

I have known Dean for many years, and when I called and asked for help, he promised that Verita Prothro, his assistant, would call me the next day.

Now, have you ever gotten directly through to your congressman? Probably not, but then he's not your friend. So, we digged a little deeper and, oh, what did we find?

A May 7 2005 contribution of $1,000 by James Pincock of Carson City to Dean Heller for Congress.

What's the lesson of all this? If you want to be "well represented" in Congress have the Congressman as your friend and make sure you've written a check in advance.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Heller vs. The Environment

As more and more Americans wake up to the emerging climate crisis, we must expect our representatives to wake up as well.

As more and more Americans realize our dependence on foreign oil is becoming a greater national security risk, we must expect our representatives to act in order to reduce that dependence.

Representative Heller managed to ignore both these issues with a single vote back in January. In fact he voted against protecting our environment and becoming energy independent with one of his earliest votes in the House of Representatives.

His vote against The Clean Energy Act of 2007 not only was a signal that he thought the U.S. Government should be subsidizing big oil but that he is against releasing the grip of countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela on the American economy.

I expected Dean Heller to be on the same side as big oil. After all, Exxon Mobil made sure to pump money into his campaign war chest. But having Nevada's Representative for the 2nd Congressional District side with Hugo Chavez King Abdullah, and those who want to jeopardize America's security is not something I expected.

UPDATE: A quick story on how bad Heller's friends at big oil are.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Why Does Heller Have an Office in Las Vegas?

So, I just went to Heller's official House website and was surprised that it was now finally functional. The one he had still up a couple of weeks (and more than three months after taking office) was an embarrassment. His new website ain't all that bad. It looks surprisingly non-militaristic as so many other Republican websites and that's as much a compliment he'll get from me on that. Just one thing: what's up with the Nevada Capitol dome? You do realize that you now work in Congress, right? Or is that a hint at your gubernatorial ambitions?

Now, to the interesting part. Heller has four offices. One in DC, of course, another one in Reno and one in Elko for the northeastern part of the district. Amazingly, his fourth office is not even in the district. It's in Las Vegas, on 600 Las Vegas Blvd, which is part of Shelley Berkley's district. Here's a map of the 2nd district. When you zoom in on the Las Vegas part, you will see that the office is a couple of miles outside his district, the closest point in his district being Nellis Air Force Base. Meanwhile, Berkley and Jon Porter have each one office in their district, not outside of it.

Of course, it's good that Heller has an office in southern Nevada. However, color me surprised that he wasn't able to rent one inside his district, say in Pahrump or in Mesquite.

This just leaves us with one question:

Did Heller skip geography in high school?

UPDATE: Blood on Heller's Hands

Update: The family hasconfirmed the soldier's death. He was no kidnapped. He was the one soldier killed in the ambush whose dog tags were taken. The blood on Heller's hands is no longer potential - it is real.

You can email your thoughts to Heller here.

KTVN news is reporting that one of the missing soldiers in Iraq is from Northern Nevada. He graduated from Douglas High School in Gardnerville. His convoy was ambushed on Saturday and he and two other soldiers remain missing. We hope and pray that he is returned safely to his unit and to the Silver State but, if he is not, Dean Heller will have blood on his hands.

Representative Heller continues to refuse to bring the troops home. There have been 28 Nevada deaths so far in Iraq; 15 of which are from his district and yet he continues to refuse to bring the troops home. The Nevada National Guard was shipped to Iraq on Mother's Day, leaving Nevada's support system weakened, and yet he continues to refuse to bring the troops home. How so? Heller voted against the Iraq Accountability Act and against overturning the President's veto.

This young man was not returned to his unit and to our state, Dean Heller has blood on his hands. It's up to us to make sure the rest of Nevada hears about it. Letters to the editor: RGJ, Nevada Appeal, Elko Daily Free Press, Ely Times, Pahrump Valley Times, Lahontan Valley News

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Heller Had 12th Worst GOP Result in 2006

Nationally, many pundits and bloggers didn't take Nevada's 2nd district too seriously in 2006. It was too safe a Republican district to be even slightly competitive, so the argument went.

Well, we all know that Dean Heller in the end won his election against Democrat Jill Derby. Against expectations though, his result wasn't very convincing. The man who was elected Secretary of State of Nevada three times, barely won more than 50% of the vote in a district that doesn't include Democratic Las Vegas. So today, I ventured out in search of Republicans who won their districts in 2006 and did worse than him. Turns out that there weren't that many.

Only 11 Republicans were elected with a worse result than Heller. Among them: Rep. Sali of Idaho, Rep. Cubin of Wyoming, Rep. Musgrave of Colorado and Rep. Doolittle of California. All these districts were presumed to be safely in Republican hands. There was no way they would become competitive and yet they were.

Again, there is talk of Heller being safe, of other Republican districts more important than Nevada's 2nd. This is reminder for all of these folks that Heller is among the vulnerable dozen Republicans currently serving in Congress:

  • 50.37% Heller
  • 50.24% Pryce (OH-15)
  • 50.21% Wilson (NM-01)
  • 50.14% Hayes (NC-08)
  • 50.08% Buchanan (FL-13)
  • 50.05% Bachmann (MN-06)
  • 49.95% Sali (ID-01)
  • 49.53% Ferguson (NJ-07)
  • 49.26% Doolittle (CA-04)
  • 48.46% Porter (NV-03)
  • 48.33% Cubin (WY-01)
  • 45.91% Musgrave (CO-04)

Results were taken from NPR.

Why Won't Dean Heller Participate in the Food Stamp Challenge?

In February 2007, 118,613 Nevadans relied on Food Stamps to get dinner for themselves and their family on the table. Each person in Nevada received an average of $87.86 per month in 2006. That would be an average of about $2,90 a day. Have you ever tried to feed yourself or your kids on a mere $3 a day?

Well, we can be sure our Congressman has never had to deal with the Food Stamp Program. However, he doesn't seem interested in those who do. At least, Dean Heller didn't take up the challenge of his colleagues Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), co-chairs of the House Hunger Caucus, to live on $21 for an entire week. You can read their letter to their colleagues here (pdf).

Only two of their 433 colleagues took up the challenge. They are Democratic Representatives Tim Ryan of Ohio and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. All of them realize it's a real challenge to live on so little per day. Here's Rep. Schakowsky's meal plan for today:



Puffed Wheat: $0.25

Milk: $0.20

Banana: $0.19

Ramen: $0.17

Pasta a Roni Tomato: $1.00

½ Diced Tomato: $0.46

Lettuce: $0.45

Milk: $0.25


As you can clearly see, it's almost impossible to live healthy on $3 per day but the Food Stamp Nutrition Education in Nevada is still trying to show how. When you take a look at Schakowsky's plan (downloadable at her website) you'll see that it really lacks in variety.

Congressman Ryan is blogging about his experience on his website. Below is his receipt for his groceries for the entire week. Notice how he only managed to stay below $21 by buying items on sale only:

Click on the receipt to enlarge

There is also a Congressional Food Stamp Challenge blog where Congressman McGovern and his wife Lisa chronicle their experience and where you can also read press acounts on the challenge.

The aim of this challenge is to raise awareness and increase appropriation for the Food Stamp Program in this year's Farm Bill. We will keep an eye out on what's happening and how Dean Heller will eventually vote on this.

Click here to read more about the eligibility and payments of the Food Stamp Program in Nevada.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Join Helluva Heller Group at PartyBuilder

If you haven't checked out the Democratic Party's PartyBuilder social networiking website you should definitely do so. While you're there and getting registered (if you haven't already done so), make sure to join the new "Helluva Heller - Defeating Dean Heller in 2008" group.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Rep. Heller's not-so-shiny-new bill

Wow, s'cuse me for not being more impressed: Nevada District 2 Representative Dean Heller's first bill is a rehash of legislation introduced in the 109th Congress to transfer federal land to Reno to complete the Trench Project. The bill was previously introduced by Nevada Senators Reid (D) and Ensign (R) last term, and Senator Ensign is planning to re-introduce the bill during the 110th. [RGJ] Saying, "...It's non-controversial" is much like saying rain is not dry?

For this Rep. Heller raised $1,634,942 and spent $1,609,281 to get elected? [OS]

And, when something controversial does pop up where's Rep. Heller? Read this article from the Las Vegas Sun and see if you can find Rep. Heller among the Nevada Congressional delegation members who expressed an opinion on the matter at hand.

Cross posted at Desert Beacon

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Future of Nevada Democrats is Female

Cross posted from Turn Tahoe Blue. Will Heller's challenger also be a woman?

Women are clearly on the rise in Nevada politics. Especially so on the Democratic side. Consider the following: in the 2006 elections Democrats nominated women in all three congressional districts, four out of six candidates for statewide office were women, including Governor.

While Jill Derby (NV-02) and Tessa Hafen (NV-03) didn't win their respective races, they did come pretty close and it's quite possible that Dean Heller and Jon Porter will have to run against female candidates again in 2008.

Women have captured high offices in Nevada in the past, though they were mostly Republican: former Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich (NV-02, 1983-97), former Treasurer Patty Cafferata (1983-87), former Lt. Governors Sue Wagner (1991-95) and Lorraine Hunt (1999-2007), Secretary of State Cheryl Lau (1991-95). The only Democratic women previously elected to statewide office were Superintendent of Public Instruction Mildred Bray (1937-51) and Frankie Sue Del Papa who was Secretary of State (1987-91) and Attorney General (1991-2003). There has not been a female US Senator yet, the only Democratic nominee was Mary Gojack in 1990.

Recently female Democrats were much more successful in being nominated and elected than their Republican counterparts. Currently, three out of four Democratic (six total) constitutional officers in Nevada are women: Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, State Treasurer Kate Marshall, and State Controller Kim Wallin. Las Vegas is represented in Congress by Shelley Berkley. The Nevada State Democratic Party has recently elected a woman, Jill Derby, as its chair. Among the five-person leadership are three more women: 2nd Vice Chair Teresa Benitez-Thompson, Secretary A'shanti Gholar, and Treasurer Jan Churchill.

In the State Assembly, Barbara Buckley was recently elected Speaker, the first woman in that position in Nevada's history. Majority Whip Sheila Leslie and Assistant Majority Whip Debbie Smith are among the five person Majority Leadership in the Assembly, while the Democratic leadership team in the State Senate is entirely comprised of women: Minority Floor Leader Dina Titus, Minority Whip Valerie Wiener, and Assistant Minority Floor Leader Bernice Mathews. As far as I could find out, no other legislatative body in the country has an entirely female leadership, at least on the Democratic side.

10 out 27 Democratic Assembly members are women (37%) and 5 out of 10 Democratic State Senators are women, making up 50%.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that in a recent poll at Helluva Heller, asking who should run against Heller on the Democratic side, out of the seven mentioned possibilities five were women: Kate Marshall, Debbie Smith, Jill Derby, Sheila Leslie, and Teresa Benitez Thompson and the female candidates were in the lead at last count.

When you consider all this, it is only a matter of time when Nevada will send another woman to the House, the first woman to the US Senate and elect its first Governor.

You can read more about the history of women in Nevada politics here.

Go to Turn Tahoe Blue to see photos of the women mentioned.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Doublemint Twins

Sven beat me to the punch!

So I guess the question has to be why the hell didn't Heller run for Governor in the first place? Great. So we now have a governor who really didn't want the job until he didn't get his House committee chairmanship and saw governing Nevada as his second choice, and a US Representative who doesn't want to represent us in D.C. but would rather be governor. Oy.

Let's Send Heller Back to Carson City

Dean "Helluva" Heller has struck again:

When the question comes, Rep. Dean Heller pauses and then chuckles.

But he doesn't duck.

Yes, he says, it's fair to assume he eventually will run for governor of Nevada.
"I'm a Carson City guy," Heller said.

"I grew up in Carson City. I've been in Carson City since I was 9 months old," he said. "When I was in elementary school, middle school, I grew up with (former Gov. and Sen. Paul) Laxalt's kids. We spent a lot of time in the governor's mansion for that reason."


"I mean the governor's mansion has been part of my life for my whole life," he said. "And to some day have the ability to govern the state, yes, it would be something that I would desire to do."

You've gotta hand it to him. He's really one awesome guy. I mean, who'd have thought that Dean Heller would tell us barely 4 months into his term as a member of Congress that he really wants another job. Wow! Geez, Congressman, do you want to hand the election to us? Really?

Or as a seemingly dumbfounded Republican Erik Herzik puts it:

"I might not have said in my first term that I was looking at another job, but in his defense, he always has said serving Nevada as governor was a key goal," said Eric Herzik, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.

So, let's do Heller a favor. Let's send him back to Carson City. Can't blame him, it's a nice city. But he better look for a new job. And, hey, it ain't gonna be in the Governor's Mansion!

And let's elect someone who actually wants to represent the wonderful people of Nevada and their interests in Washington. Heller sure ain't this person. His constituency is the constituency of one: his own career.

Heller's FEC Page

Dean Heller's FEC disclosure page is available here.

You can see committees who gave to Heller. Including: Safeway, Exxon Mobil, Newmont Mining, Pfizer, RichPAC (Former Congressman Richard Pombo's PAC).

The other page is individual contributions to Heller. Including: Alfredo Alonso, Mark Destefano, Billy Vassiliadis and NOT Jim Gibbons.

You can also see a page that lists the organizations that gave AGAINST Heller

Friday, May 4, 2007

Heller's Hearings?

The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, which includes Nevada District 2 Representative Dean Heller (R-NV) on its roster, has scheduled a full committee oversight hearing on May 9th: "Endangered Species Act Implementation: Science of Politics" The hearing will be webcast live from the Committee's site. What can we expect to find out from our new Congressman? It's to be hoped we'll hear more than we did about last week's sessions in which committees to which Rep. Heller is assigned held hearings on issues of interest to Nevada citizens.

The House Small Business Committee, of which Heller is a member, conducted two sessions this past week. A May 2nd session on entrepreneurial development assistance to service men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and another on May 3 concerning the impact of renewable energy production in rural America. The Chairwoman's statement announces, "...This hearing on renewable fuels is the first in a series on small business participation in the energy industry. In the coming weeks, the committee will examine broader renewable energy issues, as well as legislation impacting small business’ energy needs." [HSBC] And, what did we hear from Representative Heller? His "Latest News" features his testimony about funding wildfire and rangeland restoration, and touting the Douglas High School ROTC program. [Heller]

Cross posted from Desert Beacon

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Heller Waits for Orders

Most freshman members of Congress do, in fact, wait for leadership signals on their statements and votes. However, none seems to be more blatant about it than Nevada's Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV2). Speaking of his position on the emergency supplemental funding bill (HR 1591) he tells the Las Vegas Review Journal: "Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said his only "show stopper" in any compromise bill are troop withdrawal timelines that he said he strongly opposes. "My goal at this point is just to wait to see what leadership on both sides brings back," Heller said. "I don't want to set specific benchmarks and tie myself to those."

We are informed he is opposed to timelines -- that's been clear, but now he's "waiting to see what the leadership on both sides brings back..."

The implication is reasonably clear: Rep. Heller will do the bidding of the Congressional Republican leadership.

Dean Heller’s Votes

Last January 10, 2007 House Bill HR 2 was up for vote. HR2 would have increased the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour. [Washington Post]

The bill passed the House 315-116, with 4 not voting.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Democrat Shelley Berkley voted for the raise. [Washington Post]

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Republicans Dean Heller and Jon Porter voted against the raise. [Washington Post]

Wouldn't you want the minimum wage raised? Both Republicans Heller and Porter voted against you.

Two days later, January 12, 2007, House Bill HR 4 was up for vote. This bill would allow the government to negotiate directly with drug makers for lower prescription drug prices for individuals using Medicare. [Washington Post]

The bill passed the House 255-170 with 10 not voting.

Democrat Shelley Berkley voted to pass the bill.

Nevada Republicans Dean Heller and Jon Porter voted to reject it. [Washington Post]

Wouldn't you like your prescription drug prices lower? Both Heller and Porter voted against you if you would like your drug costs reduced.

On January 18, 2007 HR 6 was up for vote in the House.

This bill would repeal tax cuts to oil companies and mandate that they pay a fee to remove oil from the Gulf of Mexico. It would also fund renewable energy programs. The act would repeal a tax break that oil and gas firms received in 2004. That break effectively lowered their corporate tax rates. It would also bar oil companies from bidding on new federal leases unless they pay a fee or renegotiate improperly drafted leases from the late '90s. Those leases did not require royalty payments on Gulf of Mexico oil production. Oil firms would pay a "conservation fee" for oil taken from the gulf.

Additionally, the bill would set aside an estimated $13 billion to $15 billion in revenues over a five-year period for tax breaks relating to renewable energy sources, according to The Washington Post.

The bill was designed to reduce the United States' dependency on foreign oil by investing in alternative energy sources. However, critics say it actually would decrease domestic oil production so the country would rely more heavily on imported oil.

The House passed the bill on Jan. 18, 2007, with a vote of 264-163. All House Democrats except one favored the bill. They were joined by 36 Republicans. The Senate must debate the bill.

The Washington Post reported that the Bush Administration opposed repealing the tax break for oil companies when other manufacturing industries benefited from the 2004 reductions. It also frowned on forcing companies to renegotiate their Gulf of Mexico leases.

Democrat Shelley Berkley voted to pass the bill.

Republicans Dean Heller and Jon Porter voted against the bill wanting to retain the oil company tax cuts. [Washington Post]

So, if you wanted to help the oil companies retain their tax breaks then Heller and Porter were your men. If, on the other hand, you prefer the oil companies pay their fair share of taxes Heller and Porter are not your representatives. They voted against you in favor of the oil companies.

February 16, 2007 House Congressional Resolution 63 came up for vote.

This measure expressed the House's disagreement with President Bush's planned troop buildup in Iraq. The nonbinding resolution pledges support for U.S. personnel serving "bravely and honorably in Iraq" but says Congress "disapproves" of the president's plan to add more than 20,000 combat troops. The resolution was approved 246 to 182. Seventeen Republicans joined 229 Democrats in support of the resolution. Two Democrats opposed the measure. While the 95-word resolution has no legal weight to force the president to change his course in Iraq, it marks a first key showdown between the White House and the new Congress controlled by Democrats.

Democrat Shelley Berkley voted in favor of the resolution.

Republicans Dean Heller and Jon Porter voted against the resolution and in favor of the troop buildup (i.e., the "surge").

So, if you wanted to wind down the war on Iraq Heller and Porter voted against you. [Washington Post]

On March 23, 2007 H R 1591 was up for vote in the House.

The bill offered supplemental appropriations to help the United States fight the global war on terror, among other things. However, President Bush vowed to veto the bill because it included a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The measure prohibited the use of funds offered under the act to deploy any troops to Iraq unless the military has certified to congressional appropriators in advance that the military unit is fully mission-capable. The measure authorized the president to waive the prohibition and deployment limits on a unit-by-unit basis for reasons of national security.

It also set requirements for Department of Homeland Security contracts, subcontracts and task orders. And it required that each federal agency that has awarded at least $1 billion in the preceding fiscal year to develop and implement a plan to minimize the use of no-bid and cost-reimbursement contracts.

The bill also offered funds for disaster relief and recovery related to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, funds influenza pandemic response programs, offers livestock disaster assistance, and makes appropriations to bolster Medicare and Medicaid.

It amended fair labor laws to phase-in an increase to the federal minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It applied these wage requirements to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and to American Samoa.

It addressed several tax issues by including tax breaks for small businesses, made certain dependents ineligible for the lowest capital gains rate and lengthened the period of failure to notify a taxpayer of liability before interest and certain penalties must be suspended. The measure increased the amount of any required installment of estimated tax otherwise due in 2012 from a corporation with assets of $1 billion or more.

The bill passed the House on a vote of 218-212, with 1 voting present and 3 not voting at all.

Democrat Shelley Berkley voted to pass the bill. Democrat Dennis Kucinich just noted he was present but did not vote at all.

Republicans Dean Heller and Jon Porter voted against the bill.

Thus, if you wanted an orderly ending to the war on Iraq Heller and Porter voted against you, and in favor of "staying the course" in Iraq. [Washington Post]

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

House Failed to Override Bush’s Veto

The House failed to override the President's veto of the Iraq Supplemental Bill, which would have fully funded our troops while bringing a responsible end to the war in Iraq. [Nevada State Democratic Party]

Both Dean Heller and Jon Porter voted against the bill to fund our troops. [Dean Heller: It's Time to End the War] Last month the Las Vegas Sun reported that Heller returned to Washington "believing that two of every three Nevadans oppose the war...." It is clear from last year's election that the American people, including Nevada, want the troops out of Iraq and the war on Iraq by the United States ended. Yet Heller and Porter thumb their noses at their constituents and continue to support the war by not voting to override Bush's veto. Meanwhile American lives continue to be lost in Iraq, not to mention thousands of innocent Iraqis. Nevada voters, unless they have lost their minds, will thumb their noses at Heller and Porter in 2008.

"Democratic Members of the House of Representatives failed in their attempt to override President George W. Bush's veto of the recently passed Iraq War supplemental budget. With 220 members voting to override, the 2/3 majority was not attained, as 203 members voted to sustain the veto." [Raw Story]

"One Democratic Member of Congress, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH) voted 'Present.' Two Republican Members, Rep. Walter Jones (NC) and Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (MD) voted to override the veto, and 7 Democrats voted against the override. They were Reps. John Barrow (GA), Dan Boren (OK), Lincoln Davis (TN), Jim Marshall (GA), Jim Matheson (UT), Mike McNulty (NY), and Gene Taylor (MS). House Democrats appear to have picked up four votes from the 218 that voted for the bill that was sent to the President yesterday," according to Raw Story.

Repeating what I posted earlier on this blog: [Any Progress in Iraq Yet?]

Since Escalation Began, Baghdad is "More Violent and Chaotic Than Ever." Less than two weeks ago, one reporter in Baghdad said, "Sectarian attacks in Baghdad have also increased back to pre- surge levels," with hundreds of Iraqis killed in insurgent and sectarian attacks in the Capital alone each week. After nearly 200 people were killed in a single day last month, another columnist wrote, "Nine weeks into the ' surge, ' Baghdad is more violent and chaotic than ever." [NPR, "Morning Edition," 4/19/07; UPI, 4/19/07]

Iraqi Government Hasn't Passed Legislation on Benchmarks (But Is Planning a Two-Month Vacation.) More than two months after the new plan went into effect, "there has been little or no progress in achieving three key political benchmarks set by the Bush administration: new laws governing the sharing of Iraq's oil resources and allowing many former members of the banned Baath Party to return to their jobs, and amendments to Iraq's constitution." Although the Iraqi government has yet to adopt bills aimed at easing sectarian violence and these other benchmarks, they are planning on taking their summer recess as scheduled in July and August. [Los Angeles Times, 4/21/07; Washington Post, 4/26/07]

CD2 2008 Democratic Candidate Poll

Although we may unite against Congressman Heller, we need to be looking toward someone we can be for. This is not a complete list of potential candidates, but it's a start. If you notice a name missing, mention it in the comment thread and we'll put it on the next poll.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Democrats Can Win in the Rurals

When talking about trying to win the 2nd congressional district in Nevada, which encompasses almost all of Nevada except for the heavily populated parts of Clark County, you almost always encounter one argument: Democrats cannot win in the rurals.

Now, at first look that might be true, statewide Democratic candidates often lose the rural counties and often by a large margin. One reason for that might be that statewide Democratic candidates most often hail from Clark County and might not campaign too much in the rurals.

However, when you take a closer look you might come away shocked. Why? Because Democrats actually get elected in the rurals on a regular basis. Just take a look at this list of current office holders who identified themselves as Democrats on the ballot:

Churchill County:

Vicky Tripp, County Recorder
John Serpa, County Public Administrator

Elko County:

Mike Nannini, County Commissioner

Esmeralda County:

Nancy Boland, County Commissioner
R.J. Gillum, County Commissioner
Karen Scott, County Auditor/Recorder

Eureka County:

Michael Rebaleati, County Recorder/Auditor

Lander County:

Gladys Burris, County Clerk

Lincoln County:

Bill Lloyd, County Commissioner
Leslie Boucher, County Recorder/Auditor
Kathy Hiatt, County Treasurer
Tommy Rowe, County Commissioner

Mineral County:

Ed Fowler, County Commissioner
Richard Bryant, County Commissioner
Cheri Emm-Smith, District Attorney

Nye County:

Gary Budahl, County Treasurer
Sandra Musselman, County Assessor

Pershing County:

Roger Mancebo, County Commissioner
Celeste Hamilton, County Assessor
Donna Giles, County Clerk/Treasurer
Darlene Moura, Recorder/Auditor
Dave Ayoob, County Commissioner

Storey County:

Harold Swafford, District Attorney

White Pine County:

Robert Bishop, County Assessor
RaLeene Makley, County Commissioner
Martha Rivera Sindelar, County Recorder

Now, that's one impressive list. You know how I got this information? By skimming through the Secretary of State's website and writing down each person who won an election in the last four years and was marked as a Democrat. By doing that I may have missed someone, and there may also be persons included who are registered as Democrats but might just be so called DINOs (Democrats in name only). But I have no way of knowing. Why? Because the Nevada State Democratic Party hasn't actually advertised the fact that Democrats get routinely (and sometimes without even having an opponent) elected in the rurals. Just take a look at their page listing county commissioners. They list the five Clark County commissioners and Pete Sferrazza from Washoe County. That's it. No mention of the county commissioners from Elko, Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Pershing, and White Pine counties.

What conclusions can be drawn from that list? Democrats can win in the rurals, so much is for sure. How do they win? My guess is by meeting the voters and proving that they're more qualified for the job than their Republican opponent.

Ahead of her election as Chair of the Nevada State Democratic Party, I asked Jill Derby about her experiences on the campaign trail. Here's what she had to say:

I was able to connect with many people in all 17 of Nevada’s counties during my campaign for Congress. That experience provides me with a network of positive relationships with which to build the unity, focus, and cohesion which will be important to the Party in the year ahead. Democrats often talk about being the party of inclusion and I intend to make that happen by involving everyone – rural and urban, north and south. I also learned that many Nevadans are independent and not locked into strict party vote. I learned that reaching out and framing our message in ways that resonate beyond our traditional Democratic audience can bring support across party lines, and is particularly attractive to independent voters, of which there are many in Nevada.

In order for a Democratic candidate to beat Dean Heller next year, one can only encourage Jill Derby and hope she'll focus more heavily on the rurals, highlight achievements in counties like Lincoln and Pershing, and set up a party structure in the rural counties.

Nevada Bloggers Unite to Take on Heller

A total of eight bloggers will contribute to Helluva Heller for the next one and a half years. Our aim: monitor freshman Rep. Dean Heller (R), find a suitable opponent to Heller and help defeat Heller in 2008. We want to make sure that Dean Heller will only be remembered as one thing: an ineffectual one-term Congressman.

The contributors come from all walks of life and represent different parts of Nevada. They are (in alphabetical order):

cls resides in Lyon County. She regularly writes on her blog Blue Lyon.

Desert Beacon is in her 60s, retired, and lives in Humboldt County. She writes two other blogs: Desert Beacon and Blue Sage Views.

featheriver is a 73 year-old retired lawyer from Pahrump, Nye County. His main blog is Nye-Gateway to Nevada's Rurals.

Jed B. is 17 years old, a progressive activist and High School Student in Elko County.

Jesse Riehm is a 17 year old High School Student and lives in Fallon, Churchill County.

Nevada Blogger: JWH is 32 years old and works in sales. He lives in Fernley, Lyon County and mainly writes at The blog formerly known as "No Gibbons"...

Sven is a 28 year-old student at the University of Mannheim, Germany. He currently works on his Master in modern history. He was an exchange student at Battle Mountain High School, Lander County and George Whittell High School, Douglas County in the 1990s. His other blogs are Turn Tahoe Blue and Nevada Caucus 2008.

UpNorth is in his 20s, a student at UNR and resides in Reno. He also blogs at Nevada Up North.