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Senator Crosses Rural Bridge

Courtesy office of Sen. Jacky Rosen

Sen. Jacky Rosen visits the historic Winnemucca Grammar School during her recent tour of rural Nevada, where Internet access is a concern.

Sen. Jacky Rosen drove 650 miles to cross a bridge.

Rosen took a listening tour recently of rural Nevada, where very few of her fellow Democrats reside.

When she was elected to her first term last fall, Rosen received about 20 percent of the vote in the places she visited. That performance is typical of Democratic candidates in areas such as Elko, Pershing, and Humboldtcounties.

It was support from urban Clark County that gave Rosen, who hails from Las Vegas, the votes to unseat incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in November. Her Southern Nevada margin of almost 100,000 votes was nearly double the total of all of the Senate votes cast in the counties she visited.

“A lot of the folks who came to see me may not have voted for me, but I’m elected to represent everybody,” Rosen told State of Nevada. “When they left there were a lot of hugs, a lot of great conversation, and they realized that I’m here to fight for Nevada first.”

Rosen said she came away from her March tour better informed about rural residents’ concerns over healthcare, education, and the need for better Internet access.

“Rural communities really need this so they can thrive economically," she said of rural broadband, "So that their schools, hospitals, first responders, ambulance they can have good access.”

Rosen is intrigued by a system called "airfi," which used satellites in low-earth orbit to essentially bounce wifi to rural communities, instead of trying to use fiber cable to get to remote areas that might be surrounded by mountains.

The senator believes politicians looking to win Nevada in next year's presidential election visit rural Nevada as well.

“They’re going to learn a lot about what’s important not just to Nevadans but to hard-working families all across this country if they see the folks in rural Nevada,” she said.

The senator said she has spent the first 100 days of her service talking to senators on both sides of the aisle and working to establish bi-partisan relationships with an eye to getting things done in Washington, D.C.

She said there is actually a lot of agreement on several issues, but “those things you don’t often see on TV and so you just see the things that divide us more than the things that unite us.”

After talking with people in Nevada, she has even more information to bring back to those discussions.

“I’m only as strong as the stories everyone tells me - their anxieties, their worries, their hopes, their aspirations - I take those stories with me to Washington and that’s what informs me to how I need to legislate.”


Sen. Jacky Rosen, recently toured rural Nevada

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With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.