Opinion: Cheers and jeers for Nevada’s Harry Reid

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is no doubt divisive: Polls show that about half of Nevada voters don’t like him. But it’s still surprising to see who’s cheering and jeering him these days. (Though with the election a year away, there’s also plenty of time to change minds.)

CHEERING: Progressives who are thrilled with Reid’s announcement today that he’s backing the inclusion of a public option in the Senate’s healthcare legislation (see news video here),....

...although states would be able to opt out of it and it’s unclear whether he has the votes to ward off a filibuster.

JEERING: Moderates who support a “trigger” plan — in which public health coverage would kick in only if private insurers failed to meet certain benchmarks — and think, like President Obama reportedly does, that it’s more likely to win over conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans.


OUR THOUGHTS: There’s along way to go, but if Reid gets the public option into a final bill, it might help him woo progressives who’ve told pollsters they find him weak and ineffective. Those voters wouldn’t have cast ballots for the Republican TBD anyway. But they sure might stay home — there are plenty of other things to do in Las Vegas.


CHEERING: The parents of embattled Nevada Sen. John Ensign, a Republican, who donated $4,800 to Reid. Some people think that smells funky, since Ensign’s been in political purgatory and Reid has declined to criticize him. But father Mike Ensign is a former casino executive and Reid has long been a Friend of Gaming.

CHEERING: Casino magnate Steve Wynn, who recently ripped into the Obama administration’s economic policies but supports Reid’s reelection. “My friend of 40 years will protect Americans from this kind of foolishness,” Wynn said of the chief torchbearer for Obama’s policies. (Did we mention Reid’s a Friend of Gaming?)

JEERING: Sue Lowden and her casino-owning husband, Paul, who once donated thousands to Reid. Lowden is considered the front-runner among a gaggle of Republicans who’d like to elbow out the majority leader, as the GOP did in 2004 to Tom Daschle, the previous Democratic majority leader.

OUR THOUGHTS: When you’re polling as low as Reid, being a Friend of Gaming might not be enough.


CHEERING: Rock god/humanitarian Bono, who gave a shout-out to Reid last week during U2’s Las Vegas concert.

JEERING: No one. Bono’s awesome.

OUR THOUGHTS: Bono got 40,000 people to sing “Viva Las Vegas.” You think he could push through a public option?

— Ashley Powers

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