Shelley Berkley Will Run for Senate in Nevada

Posted April 14, 2011 at 10:15am

Updated: 11:31 a.m.

Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley is running for Senate, pitting two Members of Congress for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. John Ensign.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray told reporters Thursday morning at a briefing, “Shelley Berkley is running. … Our polls show her up and winning.”

Berkley said in a statement, “Nevadans know me, and they know I will never stop working on behalf of our state.”

The Las Vegas Sun’s Jon Ralston first reported the news in his email newsletter. “She had been agonizing but polling, opportunity too appealing,” Ralston wrote.

A poll conducted last month on Berkley’s behalf showed her and Republican Rep. Dean Heller running statistically even, but the Las Vegas-area Representative reportedly still had not made up her mind.

Berkley had national and local Democrats awaiting her decision of whether to give up a safe Democratic seat for just a crack at the Senate.

The DSCC had even trekked to Nevada to meet with potential candidates in case Berkley did not run, including Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller.

A spokeswoman for Cortez Masto told Roll Call the attorney general has always maintained she would not begin to consider running for Senate unless Berkley passed.

After a few tough re-elections, Berkley has won every election since 2004 with at least 62 percent of the vote. Heller adviser Mike Slanker responded to the news by noting this election will not be that easy.

“I think she’ll find running statewide a bit tougher than in her 25-point Democrat district in Las Vegas,” Slanker told Roll Call. “The record in Congress that kept her safe with the liberal base won’t play as well to the other 75 percent of Nevada.”

David M. Drucker contributed to this report.