WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - As the junior U.S. Senator from Nevada, Republican Dean Heller sits in the long shadow of his senior colleague, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
There are signs that Heller's own shadow may be increasing -- but he's not there yet.
Heller was appointed to the junior senatorial seat by Gov. Brian Sandoval, after a vacancy was created by the resignation of Sen. John Ensign after a sex scandal involving a staffer. After four years in the House, Heller now wants the senatorial seat in his own right, in a stand-alone election.
He is in relatively good shape, but it could be better. Most Silver State polls show Heller ahead in the race, but barely within the margin of error. His most likely challenger, Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., came closest to Heller in a Las Vegas Review-Journal poll from last December, which showed Berkley up by a single percentage point.
The latest polling average compiled by the political Web site RealClearPolitics ended April 30 and showed Heller ahead by 4.4 points.
Another hurdle for Heller is finances. Based on his years representing Nevada in the House, Heller has the statewide name recognition - the state only has three House seats - but he doesn't quite have the superior bank account as well.
He had $4.3 million in the bank, according to the most recent available Federal Election Commission records, which ended on March 31. Berkley had $4.4 million.
Moreover, Berkley has out-raised Heller during the most recent quarter -- $5.3 million for Berkley to $4.1 million for Heller. Berkley also has time on her side, having been in Congress since her first election to the House in 1998. And, she is crushing all other potential Democratic opponents in the state's primary.
The fields so far aren't set in stone. Most notably, on the Republican side, businessman Danny Tarkanian remains a potential candidate. However, other prominent names such as 2010 Senate candidate Sharron Angle, Ensign, and Brian Krolicki, the state's lieutenant governor, have all declined.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX