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Majority Stakes for Nevada

Bill Clark/Roll Call

"Far from being intimidated, the false attacks aimed at my candidacy have only served to fortify my resolve to stand against the unholy alliance between Washington and Wall Street that wrecked our economy and far too many lives, and strengthened my commitment to run for the U.S. Senate and win," Georgiou said.

It is not uncommon for Congressional leaders to intervene in party primaries back home. In 2010, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) endorsed then-Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson and worked hard to aid his campaign, only to see now-Sen. Rand Paul win the GOP primary. Reid himself played behind the scenes in the 2010 Republican Senate primary in Nevada in an effort to ensure the defeat of Sue Lowden, the candidate widely thought to have been Reid's strongest general election opponent.

Sharron Angle (R) ultimately won the Republican primary but lost to Reid by 5 points, a stunning margin considering how unpopular the Democrat was with Nevada voters. Beyond Angle's flawed candidacy, Reid's victory was attributed mainly to a get-out-the-vote operation described by many political analysts as the best non-presidential ground game ever executed.

Reid is planning to make this machine available to Berkley, both in the primary and the general election, which is a key reason Nevada Democrats give Georgiou no chance of winning the primary. The senior Reid aide said the Majority Leader has spoken up in recent days because Georgiou had been telling Nevada Democrats that Reid supports him — and the Senator wanted to set the record straight.

"That was clearly a message that he's not happy with him running," said Assemblyman Tick Segerblom (D), who represents Las Vegas. "He's made his decision on Shelley and now is maybe not-so-gently trying to push Byron to the side."

One Democratic consultant with no ties to either candidate said it is odd Georgiou is going to pass up great opportunities to win a House seat. Georgiou finished second in the Democratic primary in House races in San Diego in 1990 and 1992.

"He simply can't" overcome Reid and Berkley, the source said. "If the Republicans can't beat the Democrats in the Nevada Senate race in 2010, then I don't see how an outsider Democrat beats the Democrats in 2012."

Some Nevada Republicans argue that Georgiou offers Democrats a better chance against Heller, given his profile as an outsider and a businessman. They contend Georgiou might perform better in this swing state in an election that features the presidential contest at the top of the ticket. But Berkley's supporters disagree.

A source close to the Congresswoman emphasized that she "has her own top-notch team and runs her own campaign," though the source conceded that Reid's assistance gives her the leg up.

"Reid has held two fundraisers on her behalf and has made the Nevada State Democratic Party what it is today. And that infrastructure puts her at a serious advantage," the source said. Of the two fundraisers Reid has hosted for Berkley, one was in Nevada and the other in Washington, D.C.

Billy Vassiliadis, a Democratic consultant in Nevada and an adviser to Reid's campaign last year, said Reid's goal is to simply ensure a Democrat wins the general election next year.

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