Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) speaks during a rally for Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) at the Texas Station Gambling Hall & Hotel on February 21, 2016 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) speaks during a rally for Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) at the Texas Station Gambling Hall & Hotel on February 21, 2016 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Heller announces he will run for re-election, not governor

In 2018, 33 Senate seats will be up for grabs

(CNN) —  

Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller announced Thursday that he will forgo a run for governor in 2018 and instead run for re-election in the Senate.

The move amounts to good news for Republicans, as an open seat would have been much tougher to keep red.

In a post on his Facebook page, Heller said he and his family thought over the decision to run for governor but decided against it.

“My family and I have put much thought and prayer in considering the best way to serve the state that we love,” Heller wrote. “I believe serving and running for re-election as Nevada’s senior senator is where I can do the most good and have the biggest impact for Nevada. Serving as governor would be an enormous honor, but I am looking forward to being Nevada’s strongest voice on Capitol Hill.”

While an open race in 2018 would have been better news for Democrats, this does allow an opportunity for Democrats to close the gap in the Senate by running a candidate against Heller. Currently, the Republicans hold a slight 52-48 margin.

Nevada Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange delivered a scathing statement Thursday slamming Heller, saying he is “sub-par and lazy.”

“Dean Heller has no core, and he’s shown over and over again that he will always say whatever’s politically expedient and change positions to suit his audience,” Lange said. “He may have been too chicken to run for governor, but he’ll be coming home either way after he loses re-election in 2018.”

The other seat in Nevada, recently vacated by Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid, will be filled by Senator-elect Catherine Cortez Masto, a fellow Democrat and the first Latina to win a Senate race.

In 2018, 33 seats will be up for grabs. The Democrats will have 25 to defend, significantly more than the eight held by Republicans.

Heller was sworn into the Senate in 2011 after he was appointed by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval following the resignation of former Republican Sen. John Ensign. He successfully ran for the seat in 2012, beating former Rep. Shelley Berkley, a Democrat.