"Things could get pretty testy," the Nevada Republican told KSNV-TV, Channel 3, which reported Heller had seen recent protests at Donald Trump rallies. "Frankly my biggest concern is security, whether or not I feel it is safe enough to attend a convention."
About a week ago, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump was asked what might happen if his party denies him the nomination at July's convention in Cleveland. "I think you'd have riots," Trump replied. "I think you'd have riots. I'm representing a tremendous many, many millions of people."
The comments, not surprisingly, generated quite a bit of attention, even after notable Trump allies said the candidate wasn't being literal about the prospect of convention violence. New Jersey Chris Christie said a week ago, "I don't think he meant literal riots. I think he meant political riots, and I think that is what would happen." (For the record, I'm not altogether sure what a "political riot" is.)
What's more, Trump's comments came against a backdrop of multiple, physical confrontations at several of the candidate's events between his supporters and those protesting his candidacy.
Sen. Dean Heller (R) of Nevada has watched all of this play out, and according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the senator may skip his own party's convention "over concerns of his own safety."
The Republican National Convention's communications director told the paper that officials confident about hosting "a safe and productive convention," and that organizers are "working with local, state and federal partners" on security plans.
And I don't doubt that the relevant officials are taking responsible steps to ensure the public's safety at the Republican gathering. But what does it say about the state of Republican politics in 2016 that a sitting U.S. senator, after listening to his own party's presidential frontrunner, concedes publicly that he might avoid the party's national convention for fear of possible violence?