Harry Reid dares Nevadans to vote against him 

Harry Reid is just looking for a little credit.

In the kickoff for Reid's campaign for a fifth term representing Nevada, the Senate majority leader limbered up with a demonstration of his political clout.

The theme of the campaign launch has been "No one can do more," and is intended to remind Nevada voters how lucky they are to have Reid.

In a year when incumbency is a toxic trait, Reid is emphasizing his insider status.

Reid is rolling out high-profile visitors from Washington and an expensive ad campaign in a bid to show that his newly minted Republican opponent, former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, is simply too small-time to represent Nevada.

Despite still trailing in the polls, Reid promises victory because Republicans have picked a Tea Party-style candidate instead of a more conventional nominee.

The man who heralded the opening of the new Capitol Visitors Center as a way to avoid having to "smell the tourists" is now going to dare Nevadans to vote against him.

Just when Democrats were breathing a sigh of relief about Reid drawing an underfunded right-winger for his opponent, the majority leader rolled out the most unappealing campaign for a longtime incumbent with miserable job approval ratings (33 percent in the latest poll).

Reid has a knack for letting his ego get in the way.

Strategists suggested that this was not a good year for Reid's 46-year-old son Rory to run for governor. It would show a dynastic impulse in the imperious majority leader.

But Reid helped clear the Democratic field for his son, who still managed to lose 15 percent of the vote, as state law allows, to "none of these" and is now poised to take a shellacking in the general election from former Republican Attorney General Brian Sandoval.

Rory Reid, a county commissioner with even fewer political gifts than his fussy father, is now running a multimillion-dollar campaign that every day will remind Nevada voters of what they like least about his father.

But part of the majority leader's effort to emphasize his clout makes sense.

Nevada Democrats don't like Reid much, so it's necessary to remind them that he may be an arrogant jerk, but he is their arrogant jerk.

In the span of a week, Reid hosted first lady Michelle Obama and former President Clinton.

Obama called him "one of her favorite people in the world."

Reid is famously unpleasant, having praised the first lady's husband for having "no negro dialect" and light skin tone, suggesting either a lack of discernment or a lack of candor in the first lady.

Clinton wondered why Nevada voters would "give away" a politician who has one of the most powerful positions in government, suggesting that it would be foolish to let anger stop the flow of pork to their state.

Clinton was never popular in Nevada but managed to win the state twice (with 37 percent in 1992 and 44 percent in 1996) because of a large Perotist contingent.

Democrats are hoping for a similar result for Reid.

The only time that Reid has faced a serious opponent, then-Rep. John Ensign in 1998, Reid only managed to win by 428 votes out of almost 417,000 ballots cast -- including 8,125 for "none of these" and 8,129 for the Libertarian.

Reid says that with an official Tea Party candidate, two independents and "none of these" available to voters this time, he will again be able to slip through. "Do the math," Reid said in predicting his victory.

But the Tea Party candidate is believed by members of the grassroots group to be a Democratic plant. Angle will need to do little to keep the "don't tread on me" crowd on her side. And as for the "none of these" vote, Reid seems at least as likely to cause voters to throw up their hands in disgust as Angle.

Angle is more than $8 million behind Reid in fundraising and will have to work hard to show independent voters that she won't embarrass them in Washington. But if, and that's a very big if, she can mount a sensible-seeming campaign, Reid has left the door wide open to his challenger in a year that will send more Republicans to the polls than any midterm before.

After two years of pushing an agenda that almost seems designed to antagonize voters, Reid's theme of "no one can do more" may persuade Nevadans to vote for someone who would do a little less.

Chris Stirewalt is the political editor of The Washington Examiner. He can be reached at cstirewalt@washingtonexaminer.com

About The Author

Chris Stirewalt


Washington Examiner Political Editor Chris Stirewalt, who coordinates political coverage for the newspaper and ExaminerPolitics.com in addition to writing a twice-weekly column and
regular blog posts.

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