March 23, 2012

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Republican Sen. Dean Heller said Friday that he views himself as a “no labels” lawmaker and called for bipartisanship in Washington in the latest sign that he is trying to position himself as a moderate ahead of the November elections.

Heller told a group of business leaders in Las Vegas that he is from Carson City, a “no labels city” where government officials work together. He also stressed that some members of his family are Democrats.

“We are a no labels state. We just want solutions,” Heller told more than 20 members of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce.

Heller is locked in one of the nation’s closest Senate races against Democratic U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley. Nevada is a swing state where Democrats barely outnumber Republicans and nonpartisan voters decide contests.

When Heller ran for the U.S. House in 2006, his Republican rival, tea party favorite Sharron Angle, painted him as too moderate and nearly defeated him. But Democrats have said Heller has veered too far right since he won that election. He was re-elected twice by conservative voters in northern Nevada.

Heller was appointed from the House to the Senate last year by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval after Republican Sen. John Ensign resigned amid a sex scandal.

Last month, Heller announced that he had joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers and private groups called “No Labels” that want Congress to pass a federal budget. Heller has introduced legislation that would prohibit members of Congress from receiving their paycheck if a budget is not approved and teamed with Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee to pass the bill.

Heller stressed Friday that his support for the “No Labels” movement applies strictly to process, not policy.

He is an avid supporter of conservative issues such as repealing the federal health care law, passing a balanced budget amendment and exempting employers from paying for birth control for employees.

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