11/06/2012 08:20 am ET

Shelley Berkley Faces Dean Heller In Nevada Senate Race

One of the more bitter races playing out in 2012 is the race for the Nevada Senate, where incumbent Republican Dean Heller -- who was appointed to fill out the remaining term of disgraced Republican John Ensign -- is facing off against Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley.

Democrats have thin hopes for a possible Senate pick-up here, hopes that have been substantially dampened by Berkley getting mired in an ethics investigation. The New York Times broke the story:

At the University Medical Center here, alarms were set off three years ago — kidney transplants were failing at unusually high rates, and some patients were even dying.

Federal regulators moved to shut down the kidney transplant program, but the proposed penalty brought a rebuke from Representative Shelley Berkley, Democrat of Nevada, who helped lead a successful effort to get the officials from Washington to back down.

In pleading for a reprieve, Ms. Berkley and other members of Nevada’s Congressional delegation said they were acting on behalf of the state’s families, citing dire health consequences if the program was halted. But the congresswoman’s efforts also benefited her husband, a physician whose nephrology practice directs medical services at the hospital’s kidney care department — an arrangement that expanded after her intervention and is now reflected in a $738,000-a-year contract with the hospital.

The flap earned Berkley a "dishonorable mention" from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which put her on its annual list of “most corrupt” congresspeople. The House Ethics Committee officially launched an inquiry in July.

Berkley has fired back at her opponent, launching ads that implicated Heller in a shady deal of his own, back when he was Nevada’s secretary of state, in which "a diamond mine company allegedly carried out a $64 million fraud scheme under Heller's watch, and that Heller got a campaign donation from one of the players."

The result has been an acrimonious battle that the Associated Press described as “vicious” and a "numbing, on-air spectacle."

As of this writing, the HuffPost Pollster model has Heller wining 47 to 43.4 percent.

The Center for Responsive Politics has a list of the key contributors to each campaign.



2012 Senate Races