Perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian will challenge Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada's 2018 GOP primary, in the hopes of capitalizing on the incumbent's public clashes with President Trump.
Tarkanian issued a statement Tuesday aligning himself with Trump and promising to stick with the president if he is elected next year.
"I am a conservative Republican who supports the policies of President Trump to repeal Obamacare and end illegal immigration. I will continue to support President Trump's policies that have led to a 20 percent increase in the stock market in just six months. I will join Senator Lee, Senator Cruz, and Senator Paul fighting for real reforms against the liberals in our party," Tarkanian said, referring to three senators who also periodically oppose Trump.
Ed Goeas, a veteran Republican political consultant and Tarkanian's longtime adviser, confirmed to the Washington Examiner that he has cut ties with Tarkanian after the candidate ignored his counsel against challenging Heller. Goeas' firm, The Tarrance Group, advised Heller.
"I made it very clear in no uncertain terms I thought it was a foolish idea that I wouldn't not be involved," Goeas said Tuesday in a telephone interview.
The White House made no secret of its displeasure with Heller, who has never fully embraced the president, after he opposed the Senate GOP proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare. Heller later supported his party's bill, but the damage was done; Trump's official outside political group ran ads in Nevada criticizing the senator, despite his endangered status in the midterm in a state the president lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
But there is an upside for Heller. Tarkanian is a five-time failed candidate, and his decision to run could end up being a boon to Heller, who might otherwise have faced a fresh-faced conservative who could do more to excite the GOP base.
A Heller ally said the opposition research file on Tarkanian is thick, and would be devastating to his campaign.
"Danny Tarkanian is a perennial candidate who has spent millions of dollars on five campaigns over the last decade. Nevada voters have rejected him every time — including less than a year ago against Jacky Rosen," Heller campaign spokesman Tommy Ferraro said in a statement, alluding to Rosen, the Democratic congresswoman who is running against Heller and is her party establishment's choice to challenge the incumbent. "He's wasted conservatives' time and cost the Republican Party seats up and down the ballot."