Six candidates are running for one of Nevada's U.S. Senate seats, currently held by Harry Reid. Congressman Joe Heck is the republican nominee for the seat, and he is campaigning in Reno for most of the week, before heading to the Laxalt Basque Fry in Gardnerville, Saturday. Speaking at the Washoe Republican Women's Luncheon, Wednesday, Heck said his experience in Congress, business and the military makes him the best choice.
"Fortunately for me, the issues that are important to most Nevadans are issues that I've lived and worked my entire professional career, whether it's national security, jobs and the economy, healthcare, and education," Heck said.
Heck says one of those four issues are almost always at the top of the list, when he talks to everyday Nevadans. When it comes to the economy, the latest jobs numbers show a growth of 4,700 in July, but the unemployment rate slightly grew to 6.5 percent.
"Unfortunately for Nevada, we're like the Marines when it comes to a recession. We're the first in and we're last out because we're so dependent on the rest of the country doing well and people wanting to come and take a vacation," Heck said.
While strides have been made to diversify Nevada's economy, many are still struggling to find work. Heck says one of the biggest issues is the number of underemployed and people who have left the workforce.
"People that are working part-time jobs, that really want to be working a full-time job, or the individual who has been searching for a job that is so discouraged that they haven't been able to find one, that they've just stopped looking. That number is much higher in the state of Nevada," Heck said.
Heck's democratic opponent, Catherine Cortez Masto, was not available for an interview. The former Nevada Attorney General was in Reno, last week, where she met with small business owners.
"I want to make sure we're working to support small businesses, giving them opportunities to succeed," Cortez Masto said. "To do that, I want to know what your challenges are."
Cortez Masto says improving the economy means the government needs to work with businesses.
"It's not my voice I'm taking to Washington," Cortez Masto said. "It's all of ours, and so it's how we do this together."
The republicans hold a 54-seat majority in the U.S. Senate and Heck says it's possible that the Nevada race could determine who has control, starting in 2017. That, along with the new president will determine any possible replacements on the Supreme Court.
Heck says he supports Donald Trump for president, while many other high-profile republicans have not. He says Trump has a better chance to improve the economy, among other things.
"While there are some things that Donald says that cause me to give pause, there are things that Hillary has done that terrify me, when you look at her tenure as Secretary of State and what we saw happen around the world," Heck said.
Heck says it will be a sprint to the finish line, between Labor Day and November 8. Negotiations are taking place to have three debates between Heck and Cortez Masto, possibly in Clark, Washoe and Elko Counties during that period.