A new poll shows a close contest in Nevada's 2nd Congressional District race, a district overwhelming Republican.
The poll showed Republican Dean Heller leading 45 percent to 37
percent over Democrat Jill Derby.
The telephone survey also showed 18 percent of voters were undecided, a factor that could determine the winner come Election Day, political observers said.
The poll of 600 likely voters was conducted Sept. 5 to Sept. 7
and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
Heller's slim lead in the heavily Republican district has some
GOP officials nervous.
"I think Dean needs to get busy," said former Republican Rep.
Barbara Vucanovich, the first Nevada woman elected to a federal
office who served in the House from 1983 to 1997.
Derby's campaign said the results show voters are listening.
"It's moving people into Jill's camp," said Derby campaign
spokeswoman Jennifer Crowe. "This message of a nontraditional
candidate running against a career politician is resonating with
the voters, and that is what you see in the poll."
Political experts noted that Heller has been hampered by a tough
primary election, after which Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, R-Reno,
went to court seeking a new election because poll workers in Washoe
County showed up late for work or not at all.
Although Angle's request was denied, it slowed Heller's momentum
and fundraising, some said.
"The acrimony that came out of that is like a cloud hanging
over Heller's candidacy," said Fred Lokken, a registered
Republican and political science professor at Truckee Meadows
"The Angle challenge was not in the best interests of the
Republican Party, and it grabbed a couple of weeks of the time when
Heller should have been consolidating his position and bringing in
the support of those who had supported other candidates."
Derby, an 18-year member of the University of Nevada System
Board of Regents, was the only Democratic candidate.
"What we have to remember is that Jill Derby had no primary
election," said Michael Slanker of Las Vegas, Heller's campaign
consultant. "She went on TV the night of the primary election and
has been up ever since promoting herself and running her campaign.
And she has all the money in the world to do it."
Slanker said Heller would start TV advertising "very soon" but
declined to be specific.
The sprawling congressional district covers all of rural Nevada
and a portion of Clark County around Las Vegas. State statistics
show there are 48,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats
within the district.