10 Races to Watch in 2016: Nevada Senate

Reid will return to Congress in January as the Senate minority leader. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans ousted Sen. Harry Reid as majority leader in 2014. This cycle, the GOP wants to finish the job and defeat the Democrat at home in Nevada.  

In a year where the Senate map looks better for Democrats , Reid is one of just two Democrats on track for a competitive re-election challenge. That will make him a top target for Republicans looking to hold, and perhaps expand, their majority. The GOP wants to recruit popular Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Hispanic who many Republicans believe could best Reid.  

Here’s the problem: most Republicans said they don’t think Sandoval will run.  

Republican Reps. Joe Heck and Mark Amodei have said they're not interested in a Senate bid — positions they reiterated to CQ Roll Call in conversations outside the House chamber earlier this month. That puts outgoing Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki and newly elected Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison on top of the GOP's short list of candidates.  

But Reid will not go down without a fight, and he's started looking at staff  for his re-election. After more than 40 years in politics, he has built a formidable political apparatus in the Silver State. That infrastructure helped give Reid a 6-point win in his brutal 2010 campaign, defeating a weak Republican nominee, Sharron Angle.  

He probably won't be so lucky with his 2016 foe. Reid's next race will play out during a presidential year, and Nevada is a swing state. Republicans will invest resources in the state to win it on the national level — and to defeat him.  

Editor's Note: Over two weeks, Roll Call will unveil its Top 10 Races to Watch for 2016. The final edition will run on Jan. 2 with the full list. In no specific order, additional races to watch in 2016 include  Illinois Senate, North Carolina Senate Pennsylvania Senate, Florida's 2nd District and  New York's 11th District Related Stories: Harry Reid Considers Three Names for Campaign Manager Reid: Yucca Mountain Project Will Never Be Built Democrats Close Out Majority With Wins on Nominations Exclusive: DSCC Chairman Makes Recruitment Pitch for 2016 Script Will Be Flipped in 2016 Senate Majority Battle The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.