Dean Heller gets Nevada Senate primary challenge from Danny Tarkanian

Danny Tarkanian, the son of beloved former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian has announced a primary challenge to Republican Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada.

Tarkanian, 55, announced his intention to run against Heller on "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday morning, positioning himself as a conservative ally of President Donald Trump against an opponent who drew what appeared to be a warning from the president when he vacillated on whether to support Republicans' health care law.

"We're never going to make America great again unless we have senators in office that fully support President Trump and his America-first agenda," Tarkanian said.

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LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 23: Voters line up for a Republican caucus at Durango High School on February 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nevada voters are caucusing to choose a Republican presidential candidate in the GOP's 'first in the West' and fourth overall contest. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 23: Voters line up for a Republican caucus at Durango High School on February 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nevada voters are caucusing to choose a Republican presidential candidate in the GOP's 'first in the West' and fourth overall contest. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 23: A voter registration notice is posted at a Republican caucus site at Durango High School on February 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nevada voters are caucusing to choose a Republican presidential candidate in the GOP's 'first in the West' and fourth overall contest. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 23: Voters line up for a Republican caucus at Durango High School on February 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nevada voters are caucusing to choose a Republican presidential candidate in the GOP's 'first in the West' and fourth overall contest. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 22: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the South Point Hotel & Casino on February 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trump is campaigning in Nevada for the Republican presidential nomination ahead of the state's Feb. 23 Republican caucuses. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
RENO, NV - FEBRUARY 22: Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks at the Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows in Reno, Nevada on February 22, 2016, the night before the Nevada GOP caucus. (Photo by David Calvert/Getty Images)
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - FEBRUARY 22: Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio holds a campaign rally at Lacks Enterprises February 22, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Rubio opted to campaign in Michigan rather than be in Nevada on the night of the Nevada caucuses. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is seen inside The Trump Store at the Trump Hotel as voters caucus in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 23, 2016. US Republican presidential candidates face off in Nevada as frontrunner Donald Trump tries to maintain momentum with a rousing victory in the last contest before next week's all-important 'Super Tuesday' votes. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
RENO, NV - FEBRUARY 23: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters following a rally at the Nugget on February 23, 2016 in Sparks, Nevada. The Nevada GOP caucus is tonight. (Photo by David Calvert/Getty Images)
RENO, NV - FEBRUARY 23: Chris Lazar wears a button supporting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally at the Nugget February 23, 2016 in Sparks, Nevada. The Nevada GOP caucus is tonight. (Photo by David Calvert/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks during a campaign event ahead of the Nevada caucus at the Silverton Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 23, 2016. US Republican presidential candidates face off in Nevada February 23 as frontrunner Donald Trump tries to maintain momentum with a rousing victory in the last contest before next week's all-important 'Super Tuesday' votes. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks during a campaign event ahead of the Nevada caucus at the Silverton Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 23, 2016. US Republican presidential candidates face off in Nevada February 23 as frontrunner Donald Trump tries to maintain momentum with a rousing victory in the last contest before next week's all-important 'Super Tuesday' votes. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
John Mendonca of Las Vegas holds a neon sign while Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks at a campaign event ahead of the Nevada caucus at the Silverton Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 23, 2016. US Republican presidential candidates face off in Nevada February 23 as frontrunner Donald Trump tries to maintain momentum with a rousing victory in the last contest before next week's all-important 'Super Tuesday' votes. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hold out signs at the entrance to Silverton Casino where candidate Marco Rubio held a campaign event in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 23, 2016. US Republican presidential candidates face off in Nevada February 23 as frontrunner Donald Trump tries to maintain momentum with a rousing victory in the last contest before next week's all-important 'Super Tuesday' votes. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 22: Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks to supporters during a rally at the Durango Hills Community Center on February 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/ The Washington Post via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 22: Supporters cheer as Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks to them during a rally at the Durango Hills Community Center on February 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/ The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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In a statement released alongside his televised announcement, Tarkanian, a lawyer and businessman who has run unsuccessfully for political office in the past, said his campaign was intended to "send D.C. Dean Heller a message."

"Nevada deserves a Senator who will keep his word and vote in Washington DC the same way he campaigns here in Nevada," Tarkanian wrote. "I am a conservative Republican who supports the policies of President Trump to repeal Obamacare and end illegal immigration."

"I will continue to support President Trump's policies that have led to a 20 percent increase in the stock market in just six months," he continued, pledging to fight for "real reforms against the liberals in our party."

Tarkanian most recently ran for Congress in Nevada's 3rd District, winning the Republican primary but narrowly losing to Democrat Jacky Rosen. Rosen has also declared her candidacy for Heller's Senate seat.

In 2012, he was the Republican nominee for a congressional seat from Nevada's 4th District but lost to Democrat Steven Horsford, and in the 2010 race against then-Sen. Harry Reid, he placed third behind eventual GOP nominee Sharron Angle. He also ran unsuccessfully for Nevada secretary of state in 2006 and for state senator in 2004.

Responding to Tarkanian's announcement, Heller's re-election campaign was dismissive.

"We are not surprised," spokesman Tommy Ferraro said. "Danny Tarkanian is a perennial candidate who has spent millions of dollars on five campaigns over the last decade. Nevada voters have rejected him every time."

Heller is considered the most vulnerable Republican senator up for re-election in 2018. Nevada has grown more reliably blue in recent elections, voting for the Democrat in the past three presidential elections. In 2016, voters in the state elected Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto to Reid's seat, and the party gained a seat to hold a 3-1 advantage in the state's congressional delegation.

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