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Reid On The Rocks

September 15, 2009

Reid On The Rocks

IBD: 14 Sept. 09

Politics: The senator who called the president a liar and never apologized may have worn out his welcome in his home state. Harry Reid may be riding the liberal agenda into political oblivion.

In 2004, Republicans defeated Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle largely on the theme that he neglected his home state in favor of national party interests. The GOP is hoping that in 2010 lightning will strike a second time, and Nevada polls indicate it may be more than wishful thinking.

In 1998, Reid beat John Ensign by a hair-thin 428 votes. Ensign would go on to win Nevada’s other Senate seat two years later. Interestingly, Politico notes that Reid’s in-state approval rating stands at just 36% — statistically indistinguishable from the 35% approval rating of Ensign even after Ensign disclosed an affair with a former staffer.

Part of it has to do with Reid’s rise to Senate minority leader and then majority leader in 2006. His constituents increasingly feel left behind. Sherman Fredrick, publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, wrote in 2006:

“Sen. Reid’s undoing came early in his last term when he became a big shot in the Democratic Party and quickly morphed into someone Nevada voters did not recognize — his political girlfriend in the House, uber-liberal Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California.”

The ever-tactful Reid responded, “I hope you go out of business” — a hope that, if fulfilled, would drive Nevada’s record unemployment rate still higher and fly in the face of the political adage that you never argue with people who buy ink by the barrel.

As Reid pursues cap-and-trade, a medical overhaul and the rest of the leftist agenda, Nevadans are increasingly asking: What about Nevada? Reid is a high-profile incumbent in a state that’s becoming an economic basket case.

Nevada has the third highest jobless rate in the country at 12.5%. For 31 months, it’s had the highest foreclosure rate of any state, and Las Vegas has the highest foreclosure rate of any major U.S. city.

Nevadans feel stimulus money has not benefitted the state despite Reid’s effort to push a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas to ferry Hollywood’s liberal high rollers to Nevada’s casinos.

Polls have shown Reid’s two potential challengers, Danny Tarkanian, son of legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, and state GOP Chairwoman Sue Lowden, with double-digit leads.

Nevada is an increasingly Democratic state, and Reid is counting on his party’s edge in registration. But a Mason-Dixon poll in August found Tarkanian leading Reid by 32 points among independents, with Lowden leading by 22.

Reid’s reputation as a curmudgeon doesn’t help. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” on Dec. 5, 2004, the late host Tim Russert asked: “When the president talked about Yucca Mountain and moving the nation’s nuclear waste there, you were very, very, very strong in your words. You said, ‘President Bush is a liar. He betrayed Nevada, and he betrayed the country.’ Is that rhetoric appropriate?'”

As to Yucca Mountain, the proposed spent nuclear fuel storage facility in Nevada, Reid answered: “It’s something that is being forced upon this country by the utilities, and it’s wrong. And we have to stop it. And people may not like what I said, but I said it, and I don’t back off one bit.”

Rep. Joe Wilson, call your office.

Reid based his charge on the fact that in 2000 Bush said he would not push for Yucca Mountain without “sound science” to back it up, but then went ahead. Bush went ahead because there was sound science to back up Yucca as a safe storage facility necessary if nuclear power was to provide clean nonpolluting power for our energy future.

Harry Reid’s own political future may also be running out of energy.

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