- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 13, 2018

RENO, Nev. (AP) - The former congresswoman who Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., defeated in 2012 is urging his new challenger to avoid the same mistakes she made.

Shelley Berkley, a Las Vegas Democrat who served in Congress 14 years before losing the race to Heller six years ago, said during a recent appearance on Nevada Newsmakers that she allowed national Democratic media experts to run her U.S. Senate campaign in 2012.

Berkley said she has advised Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., against letting others run her campaign for her this year.

Berkley said her usual outgoing and glib style was muffled by her campaign and she ended up losing to Heller by a razor’s edge of 1.2 percentage points.

“I lost my election,” Berkley said. “I listened to bad advice. I wasn’t myself during the campaign. I was very scripted and I’m not a scripted person and it didn’t work. It was obvious from the start and I could never correct it.”

Rosen, a freshman congresswoman from Las Vegas, narrowly defeated Republican challenger Danny Tarkanian in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District in 2016 after the incumbent, Republican Joe Heck, decided to run for the Senate but lost to Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Tarkanian, a Las Vegas businessman, is challenging Heller in this year’s GOP Senate primary.

Berkley also is urging Rosen to avoid what might be a natural tendency to underestimate Heller’s popularity and political skills despite the fact he’s considered one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents seeking re-election to the Senate this year. He’s the only GOP incumbent running in a state that Democrat Hillary Clinton carried when President Donald Trump was elected in 2016.

“I would tell her and I have: Do not take Dean Heller for granted,” Berkley said. “I have known Dean for 30 years and I was never overly impressed with him. I think he is an average politician, not a great speaker, (not great at) all of the things where one would distinguish themselves, I don’t see it. But obviously, the people in the state of Nevada did see something.

“The reality is he (Heller) is unoffensive and people, you know, will vote for somebody who is unoffensive,” Berkley said. “So my advice to her is do not take this man for granted. … I don’t think she will.”

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