President Trump, in a somewhat rare move, seemingly helped to quell a contentious fight within his party rather than further stoke its flames.
In a tweet on Friday afternoon, the president encouraged Nevada businessman Danny Tarkanian to drop his Senate challenge against incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), who is widely viewed as the most vulnerable in the Republican’s slim Senate majority.
“It would be great for the Republican Party of Nevada, and it’s [sic] unity if good guy Danny Tarkanian would run for Congress and Dean Heller, who is doing a really good job, could run for Senate unopposed!” Trump tweeted.
Hours later, Tarkanian announced that he would exit the Senate race and run for the U.S. House instead.
The behind-the-scenes wrangling to make that happen may have occurred prior to the tweet though. Tarkanian told The Nevada Independent that he was told on Tuesday by Trump’s re-election campaign manager Brad Parscale that Trump would rather he contest the open House seat rather than the Senate.
Tarkanian, according to the report, said that he would not switch unless Trump made this position publicly known.
His wife, Amy Tarkanian, later confirmed the news on Twitter and thanked the president for his support.
“Thank you Mr. President for supporting my husband @DannyTarkanian & the Nevada Republican Party overall,” she wrote. “He would’ve made an excellent Senator, but will also make a tremendous member of Congress... looking fwd to continuing the fight in helping implement America first policies!”
Early polling had indicated that Tarkanian would have given Heller a run for his money in the only seat the Republican Party is defending in a state Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election.
He was also supportive of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s backing, saying in January that “If Mr. Bannon chooses to support me in our effort to repeal and replace Dean Heller with someone who will truly have the President's back, I welcome his support.”
Tarkanian will now run in the open district previously occupied by Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who is challenging Heller in the Senate contest. Rosen narrowly defeated Tarkanian in 2016 when he ran for the same seat.
“I am confident I would have won the U.S. Senate race,” Tarkanian said in a statement on Friday, “but the President is adamant that a unified Republican ticket in Nevada is the best direction for the America First movement.”