Reid Readies for 2010

Posted December 18, 2008 at 4:01pm

Facing an expected full-court press from Republicans in his 2010 re-election race, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is ramping up his campaign operation, sending out one of his first fundraising pitches and calling on the incoming administration to ensure millions in federal economic stimulus funds to Nevada.

Reid’s renewed focus on Nevada and his looming re-election bid are part of his long-standing strategy to avoid the same fate that befell his close friend, former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), in 2004.

Daschle was the target of a multimillion-dollar Republican campaign to elect now-Sen. John Thune. At the center of that strategy were complaints that Daschle, long a Democratic Party insider, had lost touch with South Dakota and was too much a part of the inside-the-Beltway crowd.

National Republicans and outside groups used footage of Daschle speaking to pro-abortion-rights organizations and footage of his expansive D.C.-area residence to help solidify that image in South Dakota voters’ minds — and Reid is determined to avoid his friend’s fate, sources close to Reid said.

With Republicans looking for a top-tier candidate to take him on, and their willingness to dump millions in the race, aides and those close to Reid said he is renewing his public focus on the state.

“We’re all Nevada all the time,” one longtime associate said.

Indeed, in his pitch to donors this week, Reid acknowledges Republicans have made him “their number one target,” and specifically references Daschle, whose loss remains a sore point for many Democrats.

“Republicans spent tens of millions of dollars attacking Tom Daschle and succeeded in removing him from the Senate. I will not let them do it again,” Reid wrote in an e-mail to supporters. “On December 31st my campaign will report its fundraising totals to the FEC. Republicans and the media, both in Washington and Nevada, will use this number to gauge the strength of my campaign. This is why, for the first time ever, I am asking the GiveEmHellHarry.com community to join together and raise $50,000 by midnight on December 31.”

Reid also sent a letter to Peter Orszag, President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee to be Office of Management and Budget director, regarding work on the incoming administration’s economic stimulus package. In it, Reid keeps his focus on the needs of Nevada, particularly the state’s high unemployment and home foreclosure rates, as well as help for the state’s government in maintaining services for residents.

“Without significant federal assistance, Nevada almost certainly will be forced to make deep cuts in important services, like health care, education, law enforcement and assistance to those in greatest need. Protecting Nevadans from such cuts, in my view, should be an important element of any economic recovery package,” Reid wrote.

Although Reid has taken hits from Republicans for his vocal national leadership of his party, he has continued to secure millions in earmarks and other federal funding for Nevada, and he has attempted to maintain a dual focus.

Democrats close to Reid said that while Reid will continue to perform his duties as Majority Leader, he will likely continue to ramp up his efforts for Nevada.

“We’re not going to sacrifice his duties as Majority Leader, but … if people think they’re going to catch him sleeping [on Nevada], it’s not going to happen,” a second associate said.