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Biography Shelley Berkley

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Shelley Berkley Shelley Berkley
Shelley Berkley
Former U.S. Representative for Nevada's 1st congressional district, serving since 1999 until 2013.


Shelley Berkley Biography

ENG: Rochelle "Shelley" Berkley (born Rochelle Levine; January 20, 1951) was the U.S. Representative for Nevada's 1st congressional district, serving since 1999 until 2013. In 2012, she was an unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate. She is a member of the Democratic Party.


Early life, education, and legal career

Berkley was born Rochelle Levine in New York City, New York, the daughter of Estelle (née Colonomos) and William Levine. Her paternal grandparents were Russian Jews and her mother's family were Sephardic Jews from Thessaloniki, Greece.

Berkley moved with her family to Nevada when she was a junior high school student, attending Fremont Junior High. After completing high school, she became the first member of her family to attend college when she enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She became a member of Delta Zeta sorority. Elected student body president of the Consolidated Students of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas her senior year, Shelley graduated with honors in 1972, earning a B.A. in Political Science.

After obtaining her law degree in 1976 from the University of San Diego School of Law, Shelley returned to Las Vegas and began her professional career. Berkley practiced law for several years, mainly as a member of the legal counsel for several Las Vegas casinos. She also served as the national director for the American Hotel-Motel Association.


Early political career

Berkley served in the Nevada Assembly from 1982 to 1984 and was involved in civic affairs locally. She also served on the Nevada University and Community College System Board of Regents from 1990 to 1998, and was appointed vice chair.


U.S. House of Representative - Campaigns

In 1996, U.S. Congressman John Ensign won re-election in Nevada's 1st congressional district with 50.1% of the vote, a 6.6% margin over Bob Coffin, the Democratic candidate. The day after, Berkley filed papers to run in the district. She raised $206,000 in the first six months and $410,000 in the next six months. Berkley was Democrats' dream candidate, as she easily won the primary with 81.5% of the vote. Ensign decided to retire in order to run against U.S. Senator Harry Reid in the very close and competitive 1998 senate election. In the general election, she defeated Republican Don Chairez, a District Court Judge in Clark County with 49.2% of the vote.

In 2000, she won re-election with 51.7% against State Senator Jon Porter. In 2002, she defeated Republican Las Vegas City Councilwoman Lynette Boggs with 53.7%.


2012 U.S. Senate election

Berkley announced that she will run for the United States Senate in April 2011 to succeed John Ensign, who resigned amidst an ethics scandal. She secured the Democratic nomination in the June primary and faced Senator Dean Heller in the November elections. She narrowly lost the election.


Personal life

In March 1999, Berkley married Dr. Lawrence Lehrner, a practicing nephrologist in Las Vegas. Both Berkley and Lehrner have two children from prior marriages.

Lehrner seldom campaigns with his wife. Berkley says about her husband, "He works about 12 hours a day, seven days a week. I call him a doctor's doctor." Lehrer’s medical practice has received attention during the campaign due to the House Ethics Committee's investigation into Berkley's efforts to save a kidney transplant center in which her husband has a financial interest. Laura Meyers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote, "Having Lehrner on the campaign trail with Berkley could remind voters of the ethics investigation -- or expose him to uncomfortable questions."





January 30, 2013

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