Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, the dean of the Nevada congressional delegation, endorsed state Sen. Ruben Kihuen in a crowded Democratic primary in Nevada's 4th District on Thursday.
Reid's endorsement of Kihuen, a former Reid aide, was widely expected. But his support could help Kihuen distinguish himself among the three other Democrats vying for the chance to take on freshman GOP Rep. Cresent Hardy — one of the most vulnerable House Republicans in the country.
“Ruben Kihuen is my friend. He is a loyal Democrat with a proven track record for progressive values. He's been on the front lines in Nevada fighting for equal pay for women, championing college affordability, investing in K-12 education, and expanding rights for the LGBTQ community,” Reid said in a statement. “I am endorsing Ruben in his campaign for U.S. Congress because I know what it is like to have him in your corner.”
Kihuen is battling for the nomination against three other Democrats: former state Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, philanthropist Susie Lee, and former state Assemblyman John Oceguera.
It's unclear whether Reid's endorsement will come with financial support. But it could help set Kihuen apart from the other candidates in the primary.
Reid has made a handful of other endorsements this cycle, including former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto, who is running to replace the retiring Reid this cycle.
Whomever emerges from the 4th District primary will face off with Hardy, who defeated former Rep. Steven Horsford here in 2014 in a GOP wave.
But President Barack Obama carried this district by an 11-point margin in 2012, making Hardy one of two House Republicans who the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call view as an underdog going into his re-election fight.
Though Hardy released an internal poll this week that had him leading all of his potential challengers, he never cracked 39 percent — a warning sign for his re-election chances.
Nevada's 4th District is rated a Tilts Democratic contest.
Related: Internal Poll Shows Cresent Hardy Leading Potential Challengers Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016 Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.