Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with his wife, Landra, looking on, speaks to members of the media on Monday after he cast his vote in early voting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Reid and opponent Sharron Angle have made race an issue in their campaigns.
He also criticized Angle for not coming out immediately to denounce the “Don’t Vote” ad. “How can she possibly not speak out against what they’ve done?” Reid said, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
But Angle’s campaign said Reid is improperly using the race issue to attack a woman who has Hispanic grandchildren.
“Desperate politicians do despicable things when they are losing the political battle, including playing the race card, and Sharron finds that shameful,” Angle spokesman Jerry Stacy said in an e-mail. “It’s Harry Reid who divides; whether it concerns skin color or dialects of somebody running for political office, or questioning the political affiliation of patriotic Hispanics, it’s Harry Reid’s very own comments which prove that it is Harry Reid himself who is out of touch with our community.”
Republicans have tried to exploit Reid’s own blunders, including when he professed to not understand why some Latinos would vote for Republicans as well as his controversial comments about President Barack Obama’s being “light-skinned” and having “no Negro dialect.”
An Energized Bloc
Still, Angle’s comments and the GOP ad, which Hispanic leaders have dubbed an attempt at voter suppression, appear to have energized a voting bloc that Reid desperately needs if he is to eke out a victory in the race. The two have been tied in the polls for months.
Camila Gallardo, spokeswoman for Democracia Ahora, said the group’s Nevada arm has seen more enthusiasm in recent weeks from Latinos seeking to take on Angle’s “dangerous and irresponsible” behavior, which Gallardo said amounted to “race baiting.”
Gallardo said Democracia Ahora has registered close to 8,000 voters for this election. The Hispanic Institute, another activist group, recently announced it has registered an additional 10,000 Latino voters in Nevada. Hispanics make up about 12 percent of registered voters in Nevada, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
And if a partisan enthusiasm gap exists, it hasn’t emerged yet in Nevada, as Las Vegas political reporter and pundit Jon Ralston reported Wednesday. Ralston noted that Republicans only enjoy a slight 1 percent edge in turnout in Nevada’s two biggest counties. Early voting began Oct. 16.
DREAMing of a Win
Reid has long seen Hispanic voters as his key to victory in Nevada. Many pundits viewed his promise to bring immigration reform to the floor this year as a purely political move. But a bill never made it there, and Reid blamed Republicans for refusing to negotiate.
Then shortly before Congress adjourned for the elections, Reid also attempted to tee up a vote on the DREAM Act as part of his planned debate on the defense authorization bill. Republicans blocked the Senate from moving to the authorization for a variety of reasons, including the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for illegal-immigrant children who join the military or go to college.
Latino activists as well as union organizers in Nevada said they have been targeting Hispanic voters on behalf of Democrats by noting that immigration reform is a “jobs” issue.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.