LAS VEGAS -- Nevada Republican Dean Heller will hold on to his U.S. Senate seat after narrowly defeating Democrat Shelley Berkley. Berkley conceded the race early Wednesday as results continued coming in showing Heller would be the victor.
Heller held a modest lead over Berkley throughout the year in 8 News Now/Las Vegas Review-Journal polling. The most recent SurveyUSA poll, published in early October, favored Heller by a 47-39 spread, with a roughly 3-percent margin of error. That poll showed Berkley's favorability ratings significantly underwater, with 48 percent holding an unfavorable view and 28 percent viewing her favorably.
Those numbers could be the result of heavy interest-group spending against Berkley that highlighted an ethics investigation she faces in the federal House. Berkley is accused of using her position to benefit her husband, a local kidney doctor. She strongly denies the charge. Heller has called Berkley the "most corrupt" person he knows, while Berkley continually hits Heller about his close ties to Wall Street and oil companies.
One of the country's most watched and most contentious Senate races, Berkley and Heller have spent the past year blasting each other in relentless TV ads, as well as in televised debates. Outside spending from interest groups has topped $20 million, even more than the combined $17 million raised by the candidates.
Voters in Nevada's 2nd District first sent Heller to Congress in 2006. Heller survived a brutal three-way primary that included former state Rep. Sharron Angle, then outlasted Democratic candidate Jill Derby in a surprisingly close race. He served the largely rural district until 2011, when Governor Brian Sandoval appointed Heller to the U.S. Senate to replace the disgraced John Ensign, who resigned in the wake of an extramarital affair and ethics scandal.
Former state Sen. Mark Amodei won a special election to replace Heller in September 2011.
Heller served three terms as Nevada Secretary of State beginning in 1995, following two terms as a member of the Nevada State Assembly. He is a Carson City resident.
Berkley is a seven-term Congresswoman from Nevada 1st District. She first won election to the seat in 1998 against Republican Don Chairez and did not face a serious challenge in any following year, thanks to an enormous Democratic voter registration advantage in the largely urban district. Berkley lives in Las Vegas.
Former 3rd District Rep. Dina Titus won Berkley's vacated seat.
(Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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