Updated: 5:30 p.m.
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus provided Majority Leader Harry Reid with crucial assistance down the stretch of his tight re-election battle — and more than just money, Baucus sent people.
The Montana Democrat provided 30 of his Washington, D.C., personal office and Finance Committee staff to participate in Reid’s extensive voter-turnout operation. The staffers, many of whom are experienced political hands, used personal and vacation time to aid Reid, spending as much as two weeks on the ground in the Silver State in the weeks leading up to Election Day.
“He wanted Harry back. They’re friends,” a former Baucus aide said Friday.
Baucus and the Nevada Democrat work well together, but also have a close personal relationship going back several years. Reid was elected to the Senate in 1986, eight years after Baucus, and the two bonded at least in part because of their similar backgrounds as Democrats from libertarian-leaning western states.
The Finance Chairman was not close with Tom Daschle (S.D.), Reid’s predecessor as Senate Democratic leader. But a Democratic source said Baucus was similarly helpful to Daschle in 2004, when he lost re-election to now-Sen. John Thune (R).
In addition to helping Reid with personnel, Baucus donated $100,000 to the Nevada Democratic Party this year from his own re-election account — money that bolstered a get-out-the-vote effort credited with helping Reid defeat former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R) by a larger-than-expected 5.65 percent.
Baucus had previously contributed $10,000 to Reid’s campaign through his Glacier PAC political action committee. Baucus is a prodigious fundraiser, but has not had a competitive race in years, winning re-election in 2008 with 73 percent of the vote.
“We appreciate the support we have gotten from our volunteers in Nevada and from across the country, including staff from Washington who took time off work to come help us get across the finish line,” Reid spokesman Jim Manley said.