Despite ground support, Berkley struggles to soar in Nevada

Fortunately for Mr. Heller, 52, this isn’t his first run for office. Before he was appointed to the Senate in 2011, he served as a state legislator, secretary of state and congressman, allowing him to build his own statewide campaign infrastructure.

Ms. Berkley, 61, has served in Congress for 14 years, but had never run for office outside her Las Vegas district before this year. Introducing herself to north Nevada voters under the cloud of an ethics probe hasn’t been optimal.

In their final Senate debate Oct. 15, Ms. Berkley stressed that when she fought to keep open the transplant center, “my one and only concern was for the health and well-being of the patients in Nevada.”

“They are going through this process; at the end of this process, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind, in spite of the accusations by my opponent, that it will be determined that I did absolutely nothing wrong,” she said.

That Ms. Berkley is still defending herself against accusations of corruption indicates the campaign narrative hasn’t gone her way. “I just think she has too much baggage, and her base is too much in Clark County,” said Mr. Herzik.

The Heller camp may be privately nervous about the Democratic voting edge to date, but analysts note that Nevada voters are known for their independence.

Dean Heller has a great campaign, and he’s really working it,” said Robin Reedy, a principal with RPolitix, a Nevada political-consulting firm. “I think some of those Democrats going in to vote are probably voting for Dean.”

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