Democrats showed their support for embattled Rep. Shelley Berkley in her Nevada Senate race by reserving $2.3 million of television ad time to support her in the waning days of her campaign.
The House Ethics Committee declared Monday that it was looking into reports that Berkley's official actions may have benefitted her husband -- an accusation Berkley adamantly denies. Whether the charges pan out does not change the fact that they will most likely make her race against incumbent GOP Sen. Dean Heller that much harder.
"Nevada is a blue-leaning state where the president is likely to do well and where Republicans like Dean Heller have a very hard time appealing to the growing number of Hispanic voters," said Guy Cecil, director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the group responsible for the ad buy. "Dean Heller is particularly vulnerable, having said he was proud to vote twice to end Medicare and calling for Nevada to implement an Arizona-style immigration law. Shelley Berkley is a proven fighter for Nevadans and we are ready to win this race.”
Cecil's specific mentioning of Berkley is significant, and serves to at least partially counter Republican efforts to suggest Berkley's problems are serious enough that she should withdraw.
The DSCC's counterpart, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, wrote a public letter to the Nevada Secretary of State -- a position Heller once held -- to ask what would happen if Berkley bowed out.
Berkley wrote letters, along with Heller and other Nevada leaders, trying to save a kidney transplant center in Las Vegas where her husband, a doctor, had a contract. She also wrote a letter trying to shield Medicare payments for dialysis from cuts.
The DSCC's ad buy is the second high-profile show of support for Berkley. Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid backed her bid, saying the ethics investigation won't hurt.
"I really don't think so," Reid said on Capitol Hill. "I and the entire rest of the Nevada delegation did whatever we could to keep that [kidney transplant] program going. Why? Because it saved lives," he said. "It should have absolutely no bearing on Shelley Berkley. She did the right thing, as I think I did."