- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Republican Nevada state Sen. Michael Roberson announced Wednesday that he’ll run for the southern Nevada congressional seat currently held by Republican Rep. Joe Heck.

The top-ranking state senator announced on Twitter and on a campaign website that he would seek to represent Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, saying the gridlock in Congress is frustrating voters and he wants to be part of the solution.

“I am running for Congress because we need common-sense leadership that works for the people and finds solutions to our nation’s problems,” he said in a statement.

The announcement comes two days after Heck announced he would seek the Senate seat being vacated by longtime Democratic Sen. Harry Reid. He’ll be challenging Democratic former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto in a race that’s expected to be tight.

Roberson was elected to the state Senate in 2010 and assumed the highest leadership post this legislative session after Republicans took control of both houses of the Legislature. He was instrumental in ushering through a major tax package and a bevy of education initiatives backed by fellow Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, but his commanding style often rubbed Democratic colleagues the wrong way.

Anticipating a Roberson bid for higher office, Democratic officials have been targeting him for months.

“Nevadans know Michael Roberson as nothing more than a political insider concerned with furthering his own ambitions and putting himself in the best position to serve his wealthy friends,” said Tyler Law, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in a statement issued after the announcement.

Democrats have yet to put forth a candidate, but party officials have been in talks with former Secretary of State Ross Miller. They also approached Roberson’s legislative counterpart, state Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford, but Ford announced Wednesday that he would not join the race and would instead seek re-election to state office.

Sandoval took to Twitter Wednesday to praise Roberson as a “proven leader” who “will be a great congressman,” and other Nevada Republican officeholders joined the chorus of support on social media.

The 3rd Congressional District includes Henderson and the community of Summerlin. Democrats have a slight registration advantage there, but the district includes a sizeable chunk of registered non-partisans that have helped keep it in Republican hands.

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