Dean Heller

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Dean Heller
Dean Heller.jpg
U.S. Senate, Nevada
In office
May 9, 2011-Present
Term ends
January 3, 2019
Years in position 4
PredecessorJohn E. Ensign (R)
Base salary$174,000/year
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
Next generalNovember 2018
Campaign $$14,254,145
AppointedMay 9, 2011
Appointed byNevada Governor Brian Sandoval
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
U.S. House of Representatives
Nevada Secretary of State
Nevada Assembly
Bachelor'sUniversity of Southern California
Date of birthMay 10, 1960
Place of birthCastro Valley, California
ProfessionStock broker
Net worth$3,059,840
ReligionThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)
Office website
Campaign website
Dean A. Heller (b. May 10, 1960, in Castro Valley, California) is a Republican member of the U.S. Senate from the state of Nevada. Heller was appointed to John Ensign's vacancy in the Senate in 2011. He won election to a full term in the Senate in 2012. [1]

Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Heller served in the Nevada State Assembly and as the Secretary of State in Nevada.[2]

Based on analysis of multiple outside rankings, Heller is an average Republican member of Congress, meaning he will vote with the Republican Party on the majority of bills.


Heller is long time resident of Carson City. His family relocated there when he was 9 months of age. He is a graduate of Carson High School, and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, specializing in finance and securities analysis, from the University of Southern California in 1985.[2]


Below is an abbreviated outline of Heller's academic, professional and political career:[2]

  • 1990-1994: Nevada State Assembly
  • 1995-2007: Nevada Secretary of State
  • 2007-2011: U.S. House of Representatives

Committee assignments

U.S. Senate


Heller serves on the following Senate committees[3]:


Heller served on the following committees:[4]


Legislative actions

113th Congress


The second session of the 113th Congress enacted into law 114 out of the 3,036 introduced bills (3.8 percent). Comparatively, the 112th Congress had 4.2 percent of introduced bills enacted into law in the second session.[5] The Senate confirmed 13,949 out of 18,323 executive nominations received (76.1 percent). For more information pertaining to Heller's voting record in the 113th Congress, please see the below sections.[6]

National security

John Brennan CIA nomination

Voted "No" Heller voted against the confirmation of John Brennan as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The nomination was confirmed by the Senate on March 7, 2013, with a vote of 63 - 34. Most Democrats supported the nomination, while Republicans were somewhat divided with roughly one-third supporting the nomination.[7]

Drones filibuster

See also: Rand Paul filibuster of John Brennan's CIA Nomination in March 2013

On March 6, 2013, Senator Rand Paul (R) led a 13-hour filibuster of President Obama's CIA Director nominee, John Brennan. Paul started the filibuster in order to highlight his concerns about the administration's drone policies. In particular, Paul said he was concerned about whether a drone could be used to kill an American citizen within the United States border, without any due process involved. Paul and other civil liberties activists criticized President Obama for not offering a clear response to the question. A total of 14 senators joined Paul in the filibuster -- 13 Republicans and one Democrat.[8][9][10]

According to the website Breitbart, Heller was one of 30 Republican senators who did not support the filibuster.[11][12]

The day after the filibuster, Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Paul, responding to the filibuster. Holder wrote, "Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on U.S. soil? The answer to that is no."[13]


Paul Ryan Budget Proposal

Nay3.png In March 2013 the U.S. Senate soundly rejected a balanced budget plan by House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan (R).[14] Five Republicans joined every Democrat present to kill the measure, which failed on a 40-59 vote.[14]

Heller was one of the five Senate Republicans who voted against Ryan's budget proposal.[14]

The proposed budget would have cut about $5 trillion over the next decade and aimed to balance the budget by the end of the 10-year period.[15]

Some tea party members of the GOP opposed the measure because of its reliance on $600 billion-plus in tax revenues on the wealthy enacted in January 2013, in order to balance the budget.[14] Others in the Senate opposed the Ryan plan because of cuts from safety net programs for the poor and the inclusion of a plan to turn the Medicare program for the elderly into a voucher-like system for future beneficiaries born in 1959 or later.[14]

No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013

Voted "Yes" Heller voted for H.R.325 -- No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013. The bill passed the Senate on January 31, 2013, with a vote of 64 - 34. The purpose of the bill was to temporarily suspended the debt ceiling and withhold the pay of members of Congress until a budget could be passed. The vote largely followed party lines with Democrats overwhelmingly supporting it and many Republicans in opposition to the bill.[16]

Government shutdown
See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Voted "No" During the shutdown in October 2013, the Senate rejected, down party lines, every House-originated bill that stripped the budget of funding for the Affordable Care Act. A deal was reached late on October 16, 2013, just hours before the debt ceiling deadline. The bill to reopen the government, H.R. 2775, lifted the $16.7 trillion debt limit and funds the government through January 15, 2014. Federal employees also received retroactive pay for the shutdown period. The only concession made by Senate Democrats was to require income verification for Obamacare subsidies.[17] The final vote on H.R. 2775 was 81-18, with all 18 votes against the bill from Republican members. Heller voted with the Republican Party against the bill.[18]


Mexico-U.S. border

Voted "Yes" Heller voted for Senate Amendment 1197 -- Requires the Completion of the Fence Along the United States-Mexico Border. The amendment was rejected by the Senate on June 18, 2013, with a vote of 39 - 54. The purpose of the amendment was to require the completion of 350 miles of fence described in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 before registered provisional immigrant status may be granted. It would also require 700 miles of fence be completed before the status of registered provisional immigrants may be changed to permanent resident status. The vote followed party lines.[19]


Heller released a statement in August 2013 regarding the unemployment numbers in his district and the effects of the Affordable Care Act. He said, "This month’s decline in Nevada’s unemployment rate is promising, but it doesn’t change the fact that many job creators in the Silver State will walk into the office this morning worried about the toll ObamaCare is taking on their business. The delays in implementing portions of this law show just how flawed it is. Since the Affordable Care Act was passed, many employers have been forced to cut workers' hours or stop hiring altogether. Nevadans don’t need laws that discourage job creation; they need policies that will encourage growth and innovation.”[20]

Social Issues

Violence Against Women (2013)

Voted "Yes" Heller voted for S.47 -- Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The bill was passed by the Senate on February 12, 2013, with a vote of 78 - 22. The purpose of the bill was to combat violence against women, from domestic violence to international trafficking in persons. All 22 dissenting votes were cast by Republicans.[21]

Previous congressional sessions

Fiscal Cliff

Voted "Yes" Heller voted for the fiscal cliff compromise bill, which made permanent most of the Bush tax cuts originally passed in 2001 and 2003 while also raising tax rates on the highest income levels. The bill was passed in the Senate by a 89 - 8 vote on January 1, 2013.[22]


Jon Ralston

Jon Ralston, a political journalist from Nevada, expressed frustration with Heller's staff. Ralston called them, "the most unprofessional I have worked with (or not!) in a quarter-century of covering politics." He noted it sounds self-centered to express this opinion, "I acknowledge that it is impossible to write about this topic without seeming self-serving, like a peevish, arrogant journalist not getting his way." He added, "Heller’s turtle act is just sad and cowardly. But his staff’s behavior is more than merely pathetic and unprofessional; it is an outrageous affront to taxpayers who pay their salaries." Heller's spokesman Chandler Smith responded, "Although we disagree with him, Jon Ralston is welcome to express his opinion."[23]

Campaign themes


On his campaign website, Heller listed nine issues. They were:[24]

  • ”Growing the Economy”
  • On his website, Heller said, "Government debt has grown exponentially for far too long and this reckless spending is having a direct negative impact on our nation's economy. The key to turning our economy around is to remove impediments that have caused economic stagnation and the inability of businesses to create new jobs. Not continue with business as usual."
  • ”Fiscal Responsibility”
  • On his website, Heller said, "Dean believes that increasing taxes to pay for bigger government makes little sense. Instead, Congress should cut spending, reduce the size of government and provide tax breaks for America's working middle class."
  • ”Housing and Foreclosures”
  • On his website, Heller said, "Heller believes that private capital, not the federal government, as the primary source of mortgage financing housing market is essential to long-term stability. As a conservative, Dean supports financial regulatory reforms that stop taxpayer-funded bailouts and addresses the growing liabilities of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."
  • ”Energy Independence”
  • On his website, Heller said, "Dean also believes that our nation needs a forward-thinking all of the above energy strategy that meets our short- and long-term energy needs through conservation, encouraging renewable energy and developing our own natural resources."
  • ”Healthcare Reform”
  • On his website, Heller said, "Congress should work to curb frivolous lawsuits and runaway jury rewards that only serve to fatten the pockets of trial lawyers. Heller believes the current health care law should be replaced with market based reforms that bring down the cost of health care, increases access, and provides the consumer with more choices."
  • ”Immigration Reform”
  • On his website, Heller proposed a three-step plan: 1) Start by enforcing existing immigration laws. 2) Fine businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants. 3) Construct a border wall and provide the border patrol with the resources necessary to end the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States.
  • ”Independence”
  • On his website, Heller said, "Dean is a staunch conservative that shares our values of hard work, family and the fiercely independent spirit of his fellow Nevadans. That's why he bucked his party, President Bush, and then presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain as the only member of the Nevada delegation to vote against the Wall Street bailout."
  • ”Israel”
  • On his website, Heller said, "Dean is a strong supporter of the state of Israel and believes that the United States must provide staunch and endearing political support for Israel. Violence against Israel committed by extremist groups is relentless, and demonstrates the need for the United States to provide security assistance to our friend and ally. Israel is the front line in the struggle between free, Western societies and violent extremists like al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the Iranian regime, Hezbollah and Hamas. The same extremists, who seek Israel's destruction, also seek the destruction of the United States." [24]

Presidential preference


See also: Endorsements by state officials of presidential candidates in the 2012 election

Dean Heller endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. [25]



See also: United States Senate elections in Nevada, 2012

Heller won re-election to the U.S. Senate on November 6, 2012 narrowly defeating Democratic challenger Shelley Berkley with a little over 1% of the vote.[26] He defeated Edward Hamilton, Sherry Brooks, Richard Charles, and Carlo Poliak in the June 12, 2012 Republican primary.

The University of Virginia's Center for Politics published an article called Sabato's Crystal Ball on March 22, 2012, detailing the eight races in the Senate in 2012 that would impact the political fate of which party ended up with control in 2013.[27] The seat rated a toss-up that Sabato's Crystal Ball believed was most likely to depend on the outcome of the Presidential election in November is the Senate seat in Nevada.[27] According to the article, "the size of the Hispanic vote in Nevada come November may be more of a deciding factor in this contest than any SuperPAC." [27]

U.S. Senate, Nevada, General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Shelley Berkley 44.7% 446,080
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngDean Heller Incumbent 45.9% 457,656
     Independent American Party of Nevada David Lory VanderBeek 4.9% 48,792
     N/A None of these candidates 4.5% 45,277
Total Votes 997,805
Source: Nevada Secretary of State "U.S. Senate Results"


Heller was appointed to the United States Senate by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval on May 9, 2011 after Senator John Ensign resigned.[28]

Full history

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Heller is available dating back to 2006. Based on available campaign finance records, Heller raised a total of $14,254,145 during that time period. This information was last updated on April 25, 2013.[30]

Dean Heller's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 U.S. Senate (Nevada) Won $9,417,811
2010 US House (Nevada, District 2) Won $1,487,453
2008 US House (Nevada, District 2) Won $1,713,939
2006 US House (Nevada, District 2) Won $1,634,942
Grand Total Raised $14,254,145


Breakdown of the source of Heller's campaign funds before the 2012 election.

Heller won election to the U.S. Senate in 2012. During that election cycle, Heller's campaign committee raised a total of $9,417,811 and spent $9,192,588.[31]

Cost per vote

Heller spent $20.09 per vote received in 2012.


Breakdown of the source of Heller's campaign funds before the 2010 election.

Heller was re-elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2010. His campaign committee raised a total of $1,487,453 and spent $771,681.[32]


Like-minded colleagues

The website OpenCongress tracks the voting records of each member to determine with whom he or she votes most and least often. The results include a member from each party.[33]

Heller most often votes with:

Heller least often votes with:

Ideology and leadership

See also: GovTrack's Political Spectrum & Legislative Leadership ranking

Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Heller is a "rank-and-file Republican," as of July 1, 2013.[34]

Lifetime voting record

See also: Lifetime voting records of United States Senators and Representatives

According to the website GovTrack, Heller missed 31 of 514 roll call votes from May 2011 to April 2013. This amounts to 6.0%, which is worse than the median of 1.7% among current senators as of April 2013.[35]

Congressional staff salaries

See also: Staff salaries of United States Senators and Representatives

The website Legistorm compiles staff salary information for members of Congress. Heller paid his congressional staff a total of $625,167 in 2011. He ranks first on the list of the lowest paid Republican senatorial staff salaries and ranks first overall of the lowest paid senatorial staff salaries in 2011. Overall, Nevada ranks 42nd in average salary for senatorial staff. The average U.S. Senate congressional staff was paid $2,529,141.70 in fiscal year 2011.[36]

National Journal vote ratings

See also: National Journal vote ratings


Each year National Journal publishes an analysis of how liberally or conservatively each member of Congress voted in the previous year. Heller ranked 41st in the conservative rankings among members of the U.S. Senate.[37]


Heller ranked 28th in the conservative rankings among U.S. senators.[38]

Net worth

See also: Net Worth of United States Senators and Representatives

Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by, Heller's net worth as of 2012 was estimated between $2,865,961 and $3,683,950. That averages to $3,276,455.50, which is lower than the average net worth of Republican senators in 2012 of $6,956,438.47. Heller ranked as the 42nd most wealthy senator in 2012.[39]

Dean Heller Yearly Net Worth
YearAvg. Net Worth% Difference from previous year

Voting with party


Dean Heller voted with the Republican Party 84.0% of the time, which ranked 33rd among the 46 Senate Republican members as of June 2013.[40]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term Dean + Heller + Nevada + Senate

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Dean Heller News Feed

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Heller and his wife, Lynne, have four children, Hilary, Harris, Drew and Emmy. Daughter Hilary is married to Edward Ableser, a representative in the Arizona House of Representatives.

External links


  1. Politico "2012 Election Map, Nevada"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Biographical Directory of the United States Congress "HELLER, Dean - Biographical Information," Accessed July 1, 2013
  3. Congressional Quarterly "Senate Committee List" Accessed January 22, 2013
  4. United States Senate "Committee Assignments of the 112th Congress"
  5. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, First Session of the 112th Congress," accessed September 5, 2013
  6. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, Second Session of the 113th Congress," accessed March 4, 2014
  7. Project Vote Smart, "PN 48 - Nomination of John Brennan to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  8. CNN, "Rand Paul says he's heard from White House after filibuster," March 7, 2013
  9. USA Today, "Rand Paul filibuster ranks among Senate's longest," March 7, 2013
  10. ABC News, "Rand Paul wins applause from GOP and liberals," March 7, 2013
  11. Breitbart, "AWOL: Meet the GOP senators who refused to stand with Rand," March 7, 2013
  12. Politico, "Rand Paul filibuster blasted by Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham," March 7, 2013
  13. Washington Post, "Eric Holder responds to Rand Paul with ‘no’," March 7, 2013
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 CBS News, "Senate Rejects Paul Ryan Budget," accessed March 22, 2013
  15. Washington Post, "10 House Republicans Vote Against Ryan Budget," accessed March 22, 2013
  16. Project Vote Smart, "HR 325 - To Ensure the Complete and Timely Payment of the Obligations of the United States Government Until May 19, 2013 - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  17. The Washington Post, "Reid, McConnell propose bipartisan Senate bill to end shutdown, extend borrowing," accessed October 16, 2013
  18., "H.R. 2775 As Amended," accessed October 31, 2013
  19. Project Vote Smart, "S Amdt 1197 - Requires the Completion of the Fence Along the United States-Mexico Border - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  20. Political, "Heller Responds to Nevada Unemployment Numbers", accessed August 20, 2013
  21. Project Vote Smart, "S 47 - Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  22. U.S. Senate "Roll Call Vote on the Fiscal Cliff" Accessed January 4, 2013.
  23. Roll Call, "Heller Staff Pokes Nevada’s Journalistic Tiger", accessed November 6, 2013
  24. 24.0 24.1 Dean Heller for Senate "Issues" April 23, 2012
  25. Las Vegas Review-Journal, "Sandoval, Heller endorse Romney," April 11, 2012
  26. Politico "2012 Election Map, Nevada"
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 Center for Politics "Tilting the Toss Ups – the Eight Races That Will Decide the Senate" Accessed April 9, 2012
  28. Open Secrets "Dean Heller," Accessed October 28, 2011
  29. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010," accessed March 28, 2013
  30. Open Secrets "Donor history for Dean Heller" Accessed April 25, 2013
  31. Open Secrets "Dean Heller 2012 Election Cycle," Accessed February 26, 2013
  32. Open Secrets "Dean Heller 2010 Election Data," Accessed October 28, 2011
  33. OpenCongress, "Dean Heller," Accessed August 8, 2013
  34. Gov Track "Dean Heller," Accessed July 1, 2013
  35. GovTrack, "Heller," Accessed April 11, 2013
  36. LegiStorm "Dean Heller"
  37. National Journal, "2012 Congressional Vote Ratings," March 5, 2013
  38. National Journal, "Searchable Vote Ratings Tables: House," February 23, 2012
  39., "Heller, (R-NV), 2012"
  40. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
Political offices
Preceded by
John Ensign
United States Senate - Nevada
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Jim Gibbons
United States House of Representatives - District 2
Succeeded by
Mark Amodei
Preceded by
Cheryl Lau
Nevada Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Ross Miller
Preceded by
Nevada Assembly
Succeeded by