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September 21, 2014

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Shelley Berkley publicly blames campaign staff for Senate loss

Shelley Berkley

Shelley Berkley

Former Senate candidate Shelley Berkley lambasted her 2012 Democratic campaign consultants today, saying “without a doubt” she would be a U.S. Senator now if she’d listened to her own advice.

“If I had to do it over again I would’ve thrown out all the consultants,” she told journalists Hugh Jackson and Elizabeth Crum today on The Agenda, a political talk show on KSNV News Channel 3. “Shame on me for listening to them.”

She blamed Democratic operatives for stifling her voice as they orchestrated her failed campaign against Dean Heller, the Republican who won the 2012 Senate race.

“I thought my Senate campaign was one of the worst I have ever been involved in,” she said.

“I think it’s because I didn’t trust my own instincts, and I did listen to the so-called experts who didn’t know anything.”

She said she knew her campaign was “spinning out of control” in October last year and that she’d contemplated sacking her campaign team then. But she told Crum and Jackson that she thought better of it, saying the move would only help the Heller team.

“If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t let these people run my bathwater,” she said of her consultants.

Berkley gave numerous accounts of how she thought her consultants shackled her.

She said she would’ve liked to have responded immediately to advertisements attacking her ethics investigation and a trip to Venice, which gained traction and could’ve helped lead to Heller’s slim margin of victory in 2012.

Berkley said she had few opportunities to deviate from the campaign script her consultants gave her.

She also said her consultants afforded her few opportunities to speak candidly to local media, a move she called “a big mistake.”

Last year, though, Democratic operatives who worked with Berkley called her one of three “most flawed candidates of the 2012 election cycle.”

“That machine was able to drag her within 12,000 votes,” the Democratic operative said. “But there just weren’t enough people willing to stomach her apparent corruption charges and vote for her. At some point you’re just really pushing up against a rock solid ceiling.”

Regardless of who’s to blame for the loss, the 13-minute interview provided a candid, first-hand look at what it’s like to run for office in an era when the opposing campaign team employs camera-wielding staffers who follow a candidate everywhere in hopes that the candidate will say or do something controversial.

These days, such a remark or action could make it on Twitter or YouTube in a matter of seconds.

“It is so incredibly intrusive,” Berkley said. “It’s just there in your face. It’s not even subtle anymore. It’s really ugly.”

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