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Joe Heck defeats Dina Titus in 3rd District House race

Updated Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010 | 12:39 a.m.

Freshman incumbent Dina Titus lost her first re-election bid Tuesday night to Republican challenger Joe Heck by a staggeringly tiny portion of the electorate.

Heck beat Titus by 1,922 votes, less than 1 percentage point. Their race was one of the most hotly contested in Congress.

The first Democrat to represent Nevada's 3rd Congressional District couldn't overcome the anti-incumbent sentiment that swept the nation this year and took a number of seats from Democratic House incumbents.

Titus tried to define herself as a lawmaker for the people. In campaign ads and speeches, she highlighted her work helping homeowners facing foreclosure and touted her opposition to Wall Street banks and insurance companies. She tried to define Heck as a special interest shill.

Heck fought back by blasting the accuracy of Titus' attacks, calling her entire campaign "a lie."

Heck made a brief speech shortly before 12:30 a.m., saying his victory showed that voters don’t want personal attacks in campaigns, “Voters just want to hear about the issues,” he said.

He said the new House will be more transparent, “will not spend more money than we take in,” and will work to build the economy.

“It’s time to work together,” he said. “It’s time to restore our state and our nation.”

A political moderate, Heck worked hard to toe the line in promoting conservative policies without tacking too far right. He kept his distance from U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who Democrats tried to cast as "extreme" and who Titus tried to link with her opponent.

In the end, Titus' efforts weren't enough. Voters chose the doctor over the political science professor.

"Heck is a credible candidate," said David Damore, a UNLV political scientist. "It's not like he's some tea party loony. And he's got a great pedigree between his military and medical experience."

"In general, we'd expect in midterm elections, especially with this economy, that the president's administration is going to lose."

Heck is a small business owner who practices medicine. He's also no newcomer to politics. Heck represented the state's 5th Senate District from 2004 to 2008.

He initially announced he would run for governor this year but dropped out of that race in 2009 and entered the less-crowded field for Congress instead.

Titus failed to get the lead she needed in early voting to take the election. Heck beat her by almost 400 votes in early voting and steadily extended his lead on Election Day as each precinct reported results.

Election Day turnout was low, which didn't help Titus, and many of the Democrats who did show up to the polls voted against her.

"I didn't hear good things about her," said Jenaya Butler, 33, who voted Tuesday at Gilbert Magnet School in North Las Vegas.

Butler, a Democrat, pulled the lever for both Reids but not for Titus. She chose Heck instead.

"She didn't seem right from what I saw on TV," Butler said.

Sun reporter Kyle Hansen contributed to this report.

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  1. Nevada lost its best federal legislator tonight. Though it is a hard, often thankless job being a congresswoman, I hope for the sake of Nevadans she runs again in two years. She would win in a presidential year election, especially if re-districting goes the way it is expected to. But that isn't why she should run. She always had Nevada's best interests at heart. She voted in ways the middle class (the vast majority of us) should be proud. Thank you Congresswoman Titus.

  2. Out of the Twilight Zone comes election news. So be it. Joe Heck is very busy these days, attempting to privatize social security and put the Nation's retirement funds in the hands of the Wall Street fund managers that helped bankrupt the country in 2008.

    Not a single one of these thieves ever went to jail and Joe Heck is working to kill financial regulation make them all rich with another crash.

    Rob us again and after the banks have been closed for a couple weeks, the National Guard will have to be called out to restore order but they may not be able. So the next step is to suspend the Constitution for SECURITY reasons, then call out the private security forces like Xe (Blackwater) because they are not bound by human rights like the Army. Their skills were perfected in Iraq for Global performance, and they are ready for any where, any time performance.

    The dreams of bin Laden continue to build: ruin the economy, cut back or eliminate public education, destroy the Government at all levels and insult science.

    His 9/11 dreams have been picking up strength with the aid of George W. Bush and his super wealthy religious fundamentalist friends who are exhibiting the exact same behavior in Congress today but are using a different prophet and holy book to accomplish the same tasks. Just change the names to protect the non-existent and another religion is born.

    (Read Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason". The first 12 pages make a very clear statement of what the "Rights of Man" author thought about ALL religions. Then finish the book. It is available at Amazon and free on the web. Clergy want to bury this book...it was kept alive by Patriots.)

    Meanwhile, no jobs, no ideas and the valley Mayors are coming up with suggestions instead. We ain't seen nothing yet.