Jacky Rosen, the little-known first-term congresswoman from Nevada, defeated Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) Tuesday, giving Democrats a rare pickup in the Senate.
Like most races in this purple state, with a heavy rural-urban divide, the contest was extremely close but Rosen was propelled by a massive turnout in Clark County, the most populous county in the state. The electoral loss was the first of Heller’s career.
At the start of early voting, Rosen’s campaign had made an effort to lean on the strong state party voter turnout operation that had helped shore up victories for Democrats in the past. Scores of workers from the powerful Culinary Union hit the streets to persuade Democrats and lower-propensity voters to cast a ballot for Rosen, formerly the president of a local synagogue. That strategy, one cultivated by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), paid off, building up early vote totals in Clark (which includes Las Vegas) for Rosen that Republicans couldn’t overcome on Election Day.
Rosen’s campaign messaging largely centered on Heller’s flip-flopping on Obamacare repeal as well as his growing proximity to President Trump. Meanwhile Heller sought to characterize Rosen as an out-of-touch liberal with money pouring into her campaign from the much-maligned liberal bastion of California. Heller’s vote for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was supposed to have galvanized Republican voters in the state as well.
But, ultimately, it was not enough to overcome an unprecedented turnout and antipathy toward Trump that delivered Nevada another Democrat on Tuesday night.