Some political pundits are talking about the Democrats taking back the House in 2012 but possibly losing the Senate. There is one Democratic candidate in a small swing state, population 2.7 million, with a real chance to win a Senate seat currently held by a Republican who is retiring. Shelley Berkley, the seven-term congresswoman representing the people of the 1st District of Nevada is that candidate.
Berkley was first elected in 1998 and has what most would concede is a safe seat. She represents the southern portion of Nevada including Las Vegas, which is where most of the state’s population resides. Her opponent in the race for the seat being vacated by Sen. John Ensign, a Republican, is Dean Heller, an ultra-conservative member of Congress in his third term in the House.
This race will be closely watched and will be expensive. In 2010 Majority Leader Harry Reid spent nearly $28 million defending his seat against Tea Party opponent Sharron Angle. Berkley estimates that her race will cost $18 million. That’s a lot of money to raise. But if we remember that this seat could be the difference in the Democrats holding the Senate you realize why it will be so expensive. Money will be pouring in for Republican Heller from across the nation from every ultra-conservative group out there.
It is important for the LGBT community to be a part of the coalition that will counter that influx of funds with both campaign funds and workers.
Berkley is a Democrat who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk when it comes to civil and human rights for all. She has a laser focus on rebuilding the economy in a way that will put her constituents back to work. She understands that the first thing we need to do to bring down the deficit is get people back to work. She is a realist. She is always ready to reach across the aisle to forge good legislation but she will never give up her principles to do so.
She has a 100 percent positive voting record on LGBT issues while her opponent’s record is 100 percent negative. He lacks the understanding that supporting ENDA isn’t special legislation but simple fairness and the right thing to do. Although he opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Berkley supported it and understood why both Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen said that repeal is not only the right thing to do but is actually good for the nation and will strengthen our military.
Berkley and her constituents know that broadening the understanding of and ensuring everyone’s rights is the right thing to do. She supports immigration reform because we are a nation of immigrants. She fights for jobs because she knows that when people can pay their taxes, pay their mortgages and keep their homes the nation is better off.
Shelley Berkley understands how bad the Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) budget is for her constituents and seniors everywhere. She will work to reform our entitlement programs such as Medicare but will continue to oppose the Republican plan of issuing a voucher instead of guaranteeing all seniors health care. She knows that is the wrong way to do it.
Berkley understands that limiting healthcare can have serious repercussions. An example would be having to tell a child who needs a prosthetic leg due to an accident or illness that they can only have one even when we know they will outgrow it or telling an adult on Medicaid that we will no longer pay for a needed prosthetic to enable you to go back to work and support your family.
Berkley knows that balancing the federal budget on the backs of the poor and middle class in her state as Republicans want to do is wrong. She believes that we need to cut federal spending but at the same time we must insist that the rich and corporations pay their fair share.
Shelley Berkley deserves the support of all Nevadans and fair-minded persons across the nation. She will be a senator who fights to see that our nation guarantees civil and human rights for all people. Berkley understands that when we all assume our fair share of responsibility and when people running for office do so to bring us together rather than divide us, we will have better lives and our children will have a brighter future.