Opinion: Is it too early to write off Harry Reid?
November 12, 2014
Of all the thunderbolts resulting from the 2014 "Republican tide" midterm elections, perhaps the most significant for Nevadans was the unseating of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., as Senate majority leader.
After years of Reid declaring Yucca Mountain "dead" as the repository for the nation's nuclear waste, it's clear that this issue will be back on the table. With many senior Republican senators in the coming majority, there will be considerable pressure to carry out the terms of the federal laws that created the Yucca project in the first place.
That will mean storing their states' spent nuclear materials in Nevada's Amagarossa Valley where Yucca Mountain sits. Gov. Sandoval, R-Nev., and his new Republican Nevada legislative majority can be expected to combat the onslaught of stuff that glows in the dark, but it's possible that the preemptive federal law will prevail.
And who will miss Nevada's Prince Harry and statements such as: "I heard that Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes for 10 years … how do I know that's true? Well I'm not certain."
And who can forget his comment that "you can almost smell the tourists." Are we really rid of Nevada's public embarrassment? Well at least he's being downgraded from Senate majority leader to minority leader, so hopefully the media won't be as eager to publish his gaffes.
How about the Nevada Democratic Party? Unlike the Nevada GOP, which depends on volunteers, Nevada Democrats have — with money generated by Harry Reid — rented modern offices in the Silver State's populous counties and enjoyed paid executive directors and other staff.
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The tradeoff has been that Reid totally controls the state Democratic Party, including determining which candidates will be allowed to run for office and which ones will receive campaign contributions.
Of course, having a martinet controlling their party has been efficient for Nevada Democrats in years like 2010, when 10 squabbling Republicans all filed to run for the US Senate against Reid.
Will anybody miss the hypocrisy? As former US Solicitor General Ted Olsen wrote in the Wall Street Journal, Harry Reid and 46 Senate Democrats are proposing a constitutional amendment which would give Congress and state legislatures the authority to regulate the degree to which citizens can make political donations, essentially overturning the US Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case.
Right now the amendment is just a proposal and is likely not to survive in a GOP majority Senate.
So it was quite a contrast to read in Time Magazine last week that Harry Reid's Senate Majority PAC funded roughly one in 20 Senate race ads during the last campaign.
Time reported: "Senate Majority PAC's dominance this cycle shows Democrats have largely moved past their initial qualms regarding the outside spending frenzy enabled by Citizens United which empowered corporations, unions and other special interests to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to directly advocate for and against political candidates … The group's core contributors are a cross-section of Democratic stalwarts dominated by billionaires and labor unions with reasons to make sure Democrats control the Senate."
A news anchor, referring to Reid's toughness, suggested to Democratic pollster Pat Caddell: "He could be on the Chicago Bears." Caddell responded: "Actually he should be in the Chicago mob. The man is a disgrace to democracy. I want to say this as a Democrat: I think at some point you should stand up for your country as an American."
But is Reid down and out or just down but not out? "Reid is a very pragmatic politician" said Erik Herzik, University of Nevada, Reno political science professor. "And he will cut deals to get policy."
Hmmm. Might be too early to write Harry off.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada State GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.