Henderson, Nev. — Over the long weekend, the Las Vegas Review-Journal took a closer look at Henderson community leader Jacky Rosen’s life story and why she’s running for Congress. In case you missed it, below are some excerpts from the story.
Rosen checks some key boxes for Nevada Democrats: She’s pro-choice and pro-immigration, believes in the need for a “higher livable wage,” and is a supporter of the Affordable Care Act. She has the backing of key figures such as Reid and former longtime Rep. Shelley Berkley. Rosen is also championing better protection of senior citizens, and preserving their access to Social Security and Medicare.
But beyond that, just who is this candidate handpicked by Reid?
CHICAGO TO VEGAS
Rosen was born and raised in Chicago before heading off to the University of Minnesota, where she graduated in the winter of 1979.
She fell in love with the emerging field of computer sciences. The field “just clicked” with her, Rosen said. But back in the 1970s, those degrees weren’t widely available, so she graduated with a degree in psychology while spending most of her free time in the school’s math lab honing her computer skills.
Her parents moved to Las Vegas while she was away at college, and Rosen made the choice to follow them out west after graduation.
There was just one problem: the subzero temperatures and snow covered the roads of Minnesota.
“I had to wait for the snow to melt to move across the country,” she said.
She got a job with Summa Corp. shortly after moving to the valley. But the pay was anything but great, as Rosen said she made just $12,000 that first year. Rosen needed to make more in order to live in the valley, and took a summer gig as a waitress at Caesars Palace. She was a member of Culinary Local 226 for a few months.
The pay at Summa eventually got better, and Rosen worked there through the 1980s. She moved on to Southwest Gas before finally starting her own consulting business.
As she grew older, Rosen became more involved with her faith-based community.
For the past three years, the longtime Henderson resident was the president of Congregation Ner Tamid, the largest Jewish reform synagogue in the valley, before her term expired in June. Rosen described her time as the top temple administrator as the “most amazing time of my life.”
DECIDING TO RUN
Her experience leading the synagogue and helping people on a personal level helped her make the big decision when Reid came knocking in January, Rosen said.
Things in her personal life just lined up for Rosen to run, she said. Her radiologist husband, Larry, has a stable practice and her daughter, Miranda, is out of the nest attending Princeton University.
Berkley, Rosen’s close friend and fellow Ner Tamid goer, said there were no indications that Rosen was even considering jumping into one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country.
But Berkley said she’s impressed with how natural Rosen already is on the campaign trail.
“You need to not only enjoy people, but you need to enjoy what you’re doing. And she certainly does that,” Berkley said.
As for the lack of experience, Berkley thinks it will actually be a strength for her friend during the election.
“There’s no baggage,” Berkley said. “She’s new. She’s refreshing.”
But with the incumbent, Republican Joe Heck, leaving the seat to run for US Senate, Democrats smell opportunity. A poll out this week from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has Democrat Jacky Rosen up by six points over her Republican opponent, Danny Tarkanian.
“I’m going to leave the polls to the pundits and let them have their fun,” Rosen told me at her campaign office. “Had a huge primary win, so I think my message is resonating.”
The poll, first reported by political columnist Jon Ralston, has Rosen up by 6, 40% to 34%, with 26% undecided. The margin of error is +/- 5.3%.
To voter Gwen St. Cyr, walking out of the library with her three-year-old granddaughter, the economy was at the top of her list - especially wages - and how, in her view, young Americans are struggling.
“There’s no way that they can have a family, buy a house with the wages that they’re getting now, and that’s a real concern for me,” she said.
According to the latest report from Nevada’s Secretary of State, CD3 has 136,485 registered Democrats and 131,281 registered Republicans, giving Democrats a 5,204-person advantage. The district, however, also has 71,823 nonpartisan voters, the highest of any congressional district in the state.
Democrats believe the numbers work in their favor, and point to the fact President Obama won the district twice - in 2008, and 2012. The DCCC poll also says Democrat Hillary Clinton holds an eight-point district lead over Republican Donald Trump.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee calls Tarkanian a “Trump lemming,” and says the Republican’s “ties to Trump” are a liability in CD3, given that “59% of voters have an unfavorable view of Trump.”
Tarkanian spoke at Trump’s recent Las Vegas rally.
“Danny Tarkanian is tied at the hip with Donald Trump. They’re too extreme,” Rosen told me.