Of every Republican senator up for re-election next year, only one represents a state that Hillary Clinton won last year: Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada.
He's the same GOP senator who this afternoon announced his opposition to his party's far-right health care plan.
"This bill that's currently in front of the United States Senate ... is simply not the answer, and I'm announcing today that in this form I will not support it," Heller said at a news conference in Las Vegas with Gov. Brian Sandoval Friday morning, pointing to the bill's dramatic reductions in Medicaid. [...]
More than 600,000 people in Nevada are on Medicaid, including disabled and low-income children.
Heller added that it will be "very difficult" to get him to change his mind about the legislation.
Now, I know what you're thinking, and I don't blame you. We talked just yesterday about Republicans who publicly raise concerns about a bill they ultimately intend to support, hoping to get some concessions from party leaders before ending the charade and rejoining the party fold. It's the "squeaky wheel" approach to the legislative process, and it's been around for years.
Heller's comments, however, are qualitatively different. Anything's possible with this crowd, but his objections are based on the Medicaid cuts that are at the heart of the broader Republican effort. The Nevadan made quite a spectacle of his decision today, and unless Mitch McConnell intends to completely overhaul the entire legislation -- an unlikely scenario -- it's difficult to imagine Heller going back on his word now.
Indeed, it's entirely possible Heller made this decision with McConnell's blessing: had the Nevada Republican supported this health care monstrosity, his odds of getting re-elected, which are already suspect, would get quite a bit worse.
And so, unless Heller is prepared to make a very public betrayal, he is the first credible "no" vote from the Senate Republican conference on the GOP health care bill. For health care advocates, this is an important breakthrough, but it's not enough.