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Trump-itis starts to spread down ballot

Donald Trump is dominating the Republican presidential race, but his influence is already starting to spread down ballot.
Republican presidential hopeful businessman Donald Trump speaks to guests gathered for a rally on July 25, 2015 in Oskaloosa, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty)
Republican presidential hopeful businessman Donald Trump speaks to guests gathered for a rally on July 25, 2015 in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
Republican Rep. Joe Heck is a prominent U.S. Senate candidate in Nevada, and at first blush, the conservative congressman, running for an open seat, appears to be well positioned. Nevada is a fast-growing swing state with a diverse population, and Heck has previously won with fairly broad support.
But it won't be easy. Heck voted for a far-right budget plan that tried to scrap Medicare; he's opposed minimum-wage increases; the GOP candidate is a staunch opponent of reproductive rights; and he's even condemned Social Security as a pyramid scheme.
Last week, the Republican congressman even came down with a case of Trump-itis. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported:

U.S. Rep. Joe Heck said Thursday that birthright citizenship should be on the table in the broader dialogue about immigration reform. [...] "I think [birthright citizenship] needs to be part of the discussion," Heck said. "People want to talk about immigration reform so if we're going to talk about immigration reform, then let's talk about all aspects of immigration reform. Let's come up with a system of immigration that works for Americans. So I think it should be part of the discussion."

Asked about his party's presidential frontrunner, the congressman added, "I don't talk about Donald."
That's understandable, though when Heck said he's willing to take a look at changing birthright citizenship as "part of the discussion," he necessarily allowed Donald Trump to affect the direction of his Senate campaign.
TPM had a good report yesterday on the broader dynamic.

The havoc Donald Trump is wreaking on the presidential race is just the beginning of the problems he is poised to cause Republicans in 2016. Already Trump and his anti-immigrant rhetoric is becoming a flashpoint in the down-the-ballot campaigns. The direction he is pulling his fellow Republicans could put in jeopardy the GOP's majority in the Senate, as some of the cycle's most competitive races are taking place in states with heavy Latino populations.

Of the five states that had the largest share of Hispanic voters in 2012 cycle, Florida, Colorado and Nevada are holding what are expected to be extremely contentious Senate races. And already, some of the candidates in those races have been expected to weigh in on Trump's antics, which involve labeling Mexicans "rapists" and calling for the end of birth citizenship.
This is true in several states, but it's especially noteworthy in Nevada, which is home to a sizable Latino population, and where Heck is being "dragged into the Trump mud."