Democratic Candidates Vie for Nevada Senator Dean Heller's Seat - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Democratic Candidates Vie for Nevada Senator Dean Heller's Seat

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The 2018 election is about 16 months away, and people are already lining up to challenge Republican incumbent Sen. Dean Heller. Jesse Sbaih and Rep. Jacky Rosen are two Democratic candidates who spent some time in Reno during the last week, after announcing their bids for the senate seat. 

It has been held by a Republican since 2001.

"I feel like I have this great opportunity to stand up and speak out for all of Nevada, people across the country in really important ways," Rosen, D-Nevada said.

Rosen is in her first term as the representative from Nevada's Third Congressional District, a seat that Sbaih also ran for in 2016. Sbaih runs his own law firm in Henderson.

"We have a wonderful message that really resonates across both Republicans and Democrats and independents, and that's what's going to win the day," Sbaih said. "People are sick and tired of the status quo, and we are the change that people need."

Sbaih has a progressive platform, which includes increasing clean energy, which he says will increase economic growth. He also wants a $15 minimum wage and free public college tuition. 

The two candidates have differences, including health care. Rosen says Congress needs to fine-tune the Affordable Care Act, while Sbaih wants to adopt a single-payer system.

"A healthy society is a productive society and I will be fighting very, very hard to try to get people to have Medicare for all, and I think that system will be wonderful," Sbaih said.

"We need to come to the table and find that bipartisan attack and those bipartisan solutions that are going to keep our most precious assets, our people, our families, our mothers, our fathers, our sons and daughters healthy," Rosen said.

Both say they will fight to keep Yucca Mountain from becoming the country's storage facility for nuclear waste. Rosen says the idea of shipping radioactive material through 44 states on highways or railroads is reason enough to keep it out of Nevada, among other things.

"Number one, Yucca Mountain is seismically active," Rosen said. "Number two is it's on an aquifer. There's a water table underneath it."

Sbaih says the project would jeopardize safety and the economy, since Nevada has such a large tourism industry.

"We should not be a dumping ground for other states in the country," Sbaih said. "We have our own citizens here. We care about their safety and it's not going to happen under my watch."

Rosen has lived in Nevada for nearly 40 years, with a professional background in technology, including computer software and as a systems analyst. Since taking office, she says she has learned the most from talking with constituents.

"The more you listen, the more you realize that at every kitchen table, the conversations are the same," Rosen said. "I want to be sure that in Nevada, I'm hearing about all those stories about what's important here, and taking that forward to be sure that we put Nevadans first in everything that I do."

Sbaih moved to America when he was 11 years old, when his family emigrated from Jordan. He came to Nevada in 2001, when he clerked for Vice Chief Justice Cliff Young in the Nevada Supreme Court. He says his experiences and the country's future are the reasons why he is running for Senate.

"We're fighting for Medicare for all," Sbaih said. "We're fighting for increasing the minimum wage. We're fighting for bringing great jobs to Nevada. We're fighting for immigration reform."

It may just be the beginning of a long campaign, and other candidates are likely to join the race, but both say they are ready for the long road to the primary and general elections.

"We're fighting for the people and we're going to fight for them when we get to the Senate," Sbaih said. "Unquestionably, I'll bring honesty and integrity and intellect to the United States Senate."

"I'm just going to keep my head down and be the very best that I can be, get my message out, and try to resonate that, give people someone to vote for and something to vote for, something to look forward to," Sbaih said.

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