Heller keeps seat, overcomes Berkley's challenge
November 7th, 2012
03:41 AM ET
9 years ago

Heller keeps seat, overcomes Berkley's challenge

Washington (CNN) - In Nevada, Republican Sen. Dean Heller beat back a tough challenge from Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley to win his first full term in the Senate, according to a CNN projection.

Heller led 46% to 45% – with 92% reporting - when the projection was made.

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While Heller had to contend with a strong union presence in Las Vegas and strong Democratic leanings in the state's growing Latino population, Berkley was hampered by a House ethics investigation and a debate performance widely viewed as lackluster.

Berkley is facing questions about whether her efforts to block a federal agency from closing a kidney transplant center at a Las Vegas hospital conflicted with congressional ethics rules. Her husband, Dr. Larry Lehrner, is a nephrologist and had a contract with the University Medical Center.

Heller used the investigation against Berkley, blasting her in a television ad that said the congresswoman had a "history of public corruption."

Exit polls show voters were polarized over ethics and the election. Overall, slightly more voters said Heller had higher ethics than Berkley – 29% to 24%.

Heller, a former congressman, was appointed to the Senate in May 2011 to complete the term of Republican Sen. John Ensign, who resigned in the wake of revelations relating to an extramarital affair with an aide's wife.

- CNN's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Dean Heller • Nevada
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