An Oak Park native is poised to join Nevada’s state senate this fall, after winning a hotly contested Republican primary.

Ben Kieckhefer, a 1995 graduate of OPRF High School who grew up on the 100 block of N. Harvey, moved to Nevada in 2003 to work for the Associated Press and later, the Reno Gazette-Journal.

In 2008, he jumped into politics with a brief tenure as press secretary for Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons.

After edging out a sitting member of the state assembly 42 percent to 37 percent, Kieckhefer said he’s pleased with the way he won the race in a toughly fought primary.

“Ultimately, it was a race I was able to win primarily by knocking on doors and going out and talking to people,” he said.

Growing up in left-leaning Oak Park, he knew he was a little different from the rest of his hometown, voting for Peter Fitzgerald over Carol Moseley-Braun in 1998’s U.S. Senate election.

“I’ve always had more conservative leanings than a majority of Oak Park,” Kieckhefer said. “However, one of the wonderful things about Oak Park is that’s it’s filled with many wonderful people who are willing to agree to disagree.”

He’s looking forward to November’s general election, where he won’t face a Democratic challenger. His only opponent on the ballot is a member of the hard-right fringe Independent American Party, which inspires confidence in this solidly Republican district.

“I feel good about my chances,” Kieckhefer said, “But I’ll still work hard to earn every vote I get.”

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