In between jousting with Republicans and hurling invective their way over the government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has let it be known he would be seeking reelection in 2016.
The five-term Democratic lawmaker made clear his intentions in a Politico interview published this week. Having won a brutal 2010 reelection fight against tea party favorite Sharron Angle, Reid is already stepping up fundraising and building his campaign team for the 2016 contest.
And he issued a taunting challenge to his state’s Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, who seems likely to win easy reelection in 2014 and has been mentioned as a possible Reid challenger ever since he emerged as a GOP up-and-comer more than a decade ago.
“Hey, listen, if he wants to run midterm, let him,” Reid told Politico. “I would remind him and everybody else that doesn’t work very well. Anytime anyone who is a governor leaves midterm, it just doesn’t work very well.”
Reid, who could have taught Machiavelli a few things about political maneuvering, thought he had dispatched Sandoval for good when he helped engineer his lifetime appointment to the federal bench back in 2005. But Sandoval resigned his judgeship in 2009 to run for governor and defeated Reid’s son, Rory, in the same 2010 election that featured the dystopian Reid-Angle struggle. (Politically, Nevada can be a very small state.)
Then, as now, Nevada Republicans—whose party is a shambles—must scramble to find a viable candidate to face the exceedingly vulnerable, if ruthlessly cunning, incumbent.
The good news is the GOP has plenty of time.
The unsurprising news is that Reid will not go gently into the desert night, even as he approaches his 74th birthday in December. In fact, Reid’s decision to seek a sixth term is about as surprising as a Nevada political story using a casino/gambling metaphor. (Which we have firmly resisted.)
The last word goes to Jon Ralston, Nevada’s peerless nonpartisan political analyst.
“Even if he weren't going to run, Reid is too savvy to let on,” Ralston emailed. “He would create that impression so as not to hobble himself. But I believe he will run unless his or his wife's health is a factor. Only other wild card: If GOP takes Senate in '14, does he reconsider? He will not want to be sitting in his … cabin watching Bryce Harper highlights on ESPN.
“So is he running?” Ralston asked, quoting Reid quoting Harper, the Washington Nationals’ slugger. “That's a clown question, bro.”
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