In 2010, Joe Heck, DO, FACEP, became the first emergency physician elected to the U.S. Congress. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives to represent the Third District in Nevada and serves on the Committee on Armed Services, Education and the Workforce Committee, and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Born in Queens, New York, but raised in Pennsylvania, he went to Penn State University and then the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. (Joe is also the first DO ever elected to Congress.) After completing his EM residency at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, he moved to Nevada. After three terms in the U.S. House, Joe is now running for the U.S. Senate from Nevada for the seat being vacated by retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. In addition to his work in the emergency department until his election to the U.S. House in 2010, Joe was also a small-business owner, operating Specialized Medical Operations, which provided medical and tactical training to law enforcement and emergency medical services agencies.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 35 – No 04 – April 2016
In his “spare time” (like he really has any), Joe has been a member of the U.S. Army Reserve since 1991, and in 2014, he was promoted to brigadier general. After recently completing an assignment as the deputy commanding general of the 3rd Medical Command, he now serves as the deputy surgeon and director of reserve readiness on the Joint Staff. As part of his service in the reserves, Joe has been mobilized three times, including his last deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
ACEP Now caught up with Joe to see how the campaign was going and how he feels about the future of politics and health care.
LAC: What is the biggest difference between running for the Senate versus the House?
JH: The biggest difference, literally, is the geography. When you run for the U.S. House, you can really focus on just your district, which is geographically much smaller. Running for the U.S. Senate requires you to be present everywhere in the state. For a state like Nevada that has only three major population centers, that means traveling long distances to get to every small hamlet and town where the voters are. But that’s what the election is really about: making sure that you let every voter know, no matter how small the town they live in, that they matter to you. The second difference is the amount of money that it takes to run for the U.S. Senate. The average U.S. House race costs about $2 million to run, but the average U.S. Senate race is five to six times that amount. Realistically, you can’t raise the amount of money needed for a Senate race in just your home state. As a candidate, you have to do national fund-raising. During this campaign, I will do multiple fund-raisers in Boston, New York City, Dallas, and other “big” cities. These events are hosted by people who either know me directly or are willing to support me for my work in Congress. While it is nice to know that people outside of Nevada are willing to support my campaign, it does require a lot more time and logistical coordination. For some candidates, having to run a more national campaign means relinquishing some control of your campaign to key staff. Fortunately for me, I fall into the type A EM doc model and like to keep control over everything. Although I definitely delegate more in this campaign, I still have final sign-off on all messaging and events that take place.