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Senate Democrats Get Creative to Help Harry

Senate Democrats have been pursuing all fundraising avenues to help save Majority Leader Harry Reidís job, with nearly every Member of his caucus giving generously to his imperiled re-election campaign, the Nevada Democratic Party and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Reidís biggest backers include two of the Conferenceís most powerful and ambitious Senators: Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Finance Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.), both of whom have used their ample campaign coffers to aid the Nevada state partyís get-out-the-vote effort. Reid is locked in a virtual dead heat with former GOP state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle as he looks to secure a fifth term.

Reidís Democratic colleagues understand the stakes. A Reid win is crucial to avoiding a divisive intraparty battle between Schumer and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) to succeed him as the Senate Democratic leader. Thatís a contest most Senate Democrats would like to avoid after what is expected to be a bruising election in which they are all but certain to lose several of their own ó if not the chamber itself ó and very likely control of the House.

With their leader in peril, Democrats have tried to spread their wealth to ensure Reidís success.

Senate Democrats have given more than $379,000 to Reidís re-election campaign and nearly double that ($712,000)to the Nevada Democratic Party this cycle, according to a Roll Call analysis of campaign finance records and CQ MoneyLine. Schumer and Baucus are responsible for more than $600,000 of the money given to the state party, which will play an essential role in getting voters to the polls.

Reid has raised more than $17 million for his re-election bid, while Angle has raised more than $21 million, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Reidís campaign did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Everyone seems to have a slightly different formula for helping Reid. Schumer, who appears to have given the most money, was expected Wednesday to cut another $250,000 check from his personal campaign funds to the Nevada Democratic Party, bringing his total state party donations to $510,000.

Baucus, who understands Reidís victory helps keep him atop the Finance Committee, gave $100,000 to the state party in September from his re-election fund. Schumer is facing token opposition this year, and Baucus is not in cycle. Both Senators have also used their leadership political action committees to give $10,000 to Reidís re-election campaign as well.

Other Senate heavyweights have opted to help Reid in myriad ways. Durbinís Prairie PAC has given $10,000 to Reidís re-election campaign and $5,000 to the Nevada Democratic Party. But he has also hosted three Chicago fundraisers and one Washington, D.C., fundraiser for the Majority Leader this cycle. Durbinís fundraising strategy, one Democratic source said, has the added benefit of helping to introduce Reid to new donors.

Durbin, Reidís No. 2 in leadership, has also traveled to Nevada twice to campaign with Reid and lent him a campaign staffer who specializes in Hispanic outreach.

Democratic Conference Secretary Patty Murray (Wash.), who is in a pitched battle for her seat, gave $10,000 to Reid and $5,000 to the state party.

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