Republican Congressman Joe Heck has officially joined the race to run for retiring Nevada Sen. Harry Reid's senate seat.
Heck, who announced his candidacy in July, officially filed his candidacy paperwork in Las Vegas on Monday. He told reporters the stakes were "extremely large" in determining control of the U.S. Senate heading into a critical time.
"This is going to be a critical race in determining who controls the majority of the Senate come 2017, and that’s why we are very excited to try and put this seat back in Republican hands for the first time in 30 years," he said.
Heck, a three-term congressman, is likely running against Democratic nominee Catherine Cortez Masto, the state's former Attorney General and Reid's preferred replacement. While not directly attacking Masto, Heck said his time as a small business owner, emergency room doctor and 25 years in the military makes him the best-qualified candidate.
— Riley Snyder (@RileySnyder) March 14, 2016
Heck also swatted away suggestions that Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump's divisive rhetoric and plans to deport 11 million undocumented migrants would hurt his chances, saying that he won his demographically diverse congressional district by increasingly larger margins over the last three elections.
"They know who I am; they know where I am on the issues and what I’ve done for those communities," he said. "I believe that the relationships that we created will endure whoever the nominee is on the presidential race."
Heck said his other legislative goals included improving access to health care, supporting medical residency programs throughout Nevada and working to complete the proposed Interstate 11 between Las Vegas and Phoenix.
"I think there’s no infrastructure project more critical to the state of Nevada than I-11," he said.
Nevada's primary election is June 14.