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Heller Won’t Challenge Reid in 2010

Updated: 5:34 p.m.Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) has decided to take a pass on challenging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) in 2010, a move that comes as little surprise to national party insiders. The two-term Congressman informed National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) of his decision on Tuesday.Several polls conducted in the Silver State since the start of the cycle have shown that Reid could be vulnerable in his bid for a fifth term, and Republicans continue to remain optimistic that they will be able to recruit a top candidate who will give Reid a competitive race next year.“This race will ultimately be a referendum on Harry Reid’s out-of-touch partisan policies in Washington versus his empty rhetoric in Nevada, and we are confident that we will field a winning Republican challenger and that this race will be a top target in 2010.— NRSC spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson said Tuesday afternoon.Reid released a statement late Tuesday afternoon praising Heller. “Our families have been friends for many years, and regardless of his decision, that wouldn’t have changed,— Reid said.Heller is the third big-name Republican in Nevada to pass on the race against the powerful Majority Leader, who had banked more than $7 million for his re-election effort by the end of June.Entering the cycle, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki seemed like the most promising potential GOP contender. But he was indicted in late 2008 for allegedly misusing government funds during his time as state treasurer. Krolicki insists the indictment was politically motivated, but it may be tough for him to get out from under it in time to mount a serious 2010 campaign.Former Rep. Jon Porter (R), who was defeated by now-Rep. Dina Titus (D) in 2008, seemed like the next best option for the GOP fallback after Krolicki, but he took a job with a law firm in Washington, D.C., and said he would not run.Republicans admit Heller would have been an excellent candidate. He is a former Nevada secretary of state and has demonstrated the ability to raise large amounts of money for his Congressional bids.Still, Republicans say a top-flight opponent will emerge.“Considering Harry Reid is either the first or second most vulnerable Democrat incumbent in the Senate, [Heller is] certainly not the only candidate,— Wilkerson said.Attorney Chuck Kozak (R), who came to the state four years ago, is already in the race, as well as Danny Tarkanian, the son of famed University of Nevada Las Vegas former basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian. State Sen. Mark Amodei (R) has said he would consider running if Heller didn’t. There has also been talk of wealthy banker John Chachas (R) entering the race, as well as former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle.

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