Nevada: Colleagues Ante Up for Reid’s Re-Election Race

Posted October 19, 2009 at 6:45pm

After years of overseeing the Democratic agenda in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid has determined the fate of any number of pet causes of lawmakers and interest groups. Now, facing a tough 2010 re-election campaign, he has reason to call in some favors. And the four-term incumbent’s campaign finance report shows the Democratic Party establishment answered the call in the third quarter of the year.

Eighteen of Reid’s Democratic Senate colleagues collectively gave him more than $100,000 from their leadership political action committees, while Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) chipped in another $4,000 each from their campaign committees and Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) gave $2,000 from his coffers and another $2,400 from personal funds. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) gave $5,000 from his PAC.

Other party luminaries are also rallying behind Reid. Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta gave Reid $1,000 in the third quarter; Democratic strategist and lobbyist Steve Elmendorf gave $2,300 to push his total for the cycle to the $4,8000 maximum for individual giving; and Jonathan Mantz, managing director at BGR Government Affairs and the national finance director for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, added $1,000.

Democrats weren’t the only ones giving to Reid, however. Former Republican National Committee Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., now the president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, and the National Rifle Association, a typical GOP constituency, both donated to the Senator’s re-election committee.

So did the parents of Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.). Michael Ensign is a former casino executive with Mandalay Resort Group, and he and his wife have been major Republican donors throughout the years. They each gave $4,800 to Reid in September.

Despite being on opposite sides of the partisan divide, Reid and Ensign have an unofficial non-aggression pact, and Reid has remained silent on his colleague’s admission over the summer that he had carried on an affair with Cynthia Hampton, a former campaign staffer and wife of one of his former top aides, Doug Hampton.

The September donations are not the Ensigns’ first to Reid, who has been a friend to gaming interests during his time in the Senate. They also gave $4,000 each to the Democrat for his 2004 election, which he won comfortably.

Reid reported last week that he raised a total of $2 million in the third quarter, giving him $8.7 million in cash on hand at the end of September.