Harry Reid supports Vegas bid for both GOP, Democratic conventions

Harry Reid supports Vegas bid for both GOP, Democratic conventions
Senate Majority Harry Reid of Nevada supports Las Vegas' bid to host the 2016 Republican National Convention and would like to see the Democrats meet there as well. (Associated Press)

Count Harry Reid among those backing Las Vegas' bid to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. Just don't do it too loudly or, he fears, he'll chase it off.

“The one way to get rid of it is for me to say I favor it,” the Senate majority leader and arch-GOP-nemesis said Monday during a broad-ranging telephone interview on politics back home in Nevada. “I have been very supportive, but I think I need to stay out of the Republican convention.”

Speaking from his Capitol office, Reid noted that Las Vegas is among the 15 cities that Democrats have approached about possibly hosting their national convention in two years. Responses are due back early next month and if Las Vegas is interested, Reid said, he would be involved "big-time on that."

He brushed aside the licentious reputation that has made Vegas' bid for the GOP event so problematic, despite the city's many other advantages (more hotel space than any city in America, a close-in airport, wealthy GOP donors eager to open their wallets to help pay for the event).


A bigger issue for Republicans, Reid said, is the presence up the road of rogue rancher Cliven Bundy, enmeshed in a grazing-fees standoff with the Bureau of Land Management, and Bundy's musings that perhaps slavery wasn't such a bad thing after all. "I don't think that's very helpful," Reid said dryly.

Apart from running the Senate, stymieing Republicans, fighting to preserve the Democratic majority in a tough midyear election, helping promote President Obama’s agenda and otherwise occupying himself with matters of national and international import, Reid readily acknowledged his granular focus on state politics. “Everyone knows I meddle in all these races,” he said of Nevada’s 2014 election.

He failed to recruit a viable candidate against Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, but is pushing hard to elect a Democratic lieutenant governor, state Assemblywoman Lucy Flores of Las Vegas, a  move widely seen as an effort  to make Sandoval think twice about challenging Reid when he seeks a sixth term in 2016.

In an interview last week in Carson City, Sandoval seemed to be leaning strongly against the race, speaking well of Reid and the benefits Nevada enjoys having the Senate leader hail from the state.

Reid returned the compliment Monday, saying Sandoval has “done a good job” as governor and has been a strong partner on Nevada issues.

He allowed, though, that he would have preferred if Sandoval had stayed on the federal bench, a lifetime 2005 appointment that Reid helped engineer.  “Then my son would be governor,” Reid said.

Rory Reid, a former Clark County Commissioner, lost the 2010 gubernatorial election to Sandoval, who gave up his judgeship to make the race.

“He would have been a terrific governor,” Harry Reid said of his son. “Even better than Sandoval.”

Twitter: @markzbarabak