I'm among the many national and state political observers who are wondering whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada faces an uphill re-election battle next year. I'll answer that question with a movie title: Definitely, maybe.
We know that Reid thinks he's in trouble because he's already running those ubiquitous "Pinky" Reid from Searchlight ads on Nevada TV stations. But if that's who he was in his hard-scrabble youth, he's someone else today - a Washington insider and Big Government liberal - and therein lies his political problem. So will Sen. Reid rediscover his Nevada roots in time to win re-election next year, or will he pull a Tom Daschle? As you'll recall, Daschle, Reid's predecessor as majority leader, lost a re-election bid when he wandered too far to the left of his South Dakota constituency.
"President Obama, House Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid have launched the country on a course of massive spending, a dramatic expansion of government, and a slew of new taxes," a conservative commentator wrote in Newsweek last week, and I tend to agree. Reid hurts himself here in our moderately conservative state when he aligns himself so closely with Pelosi's extremely liberal agenda, and he's in serious trouble if he accepts her trillion-dollar version of government-run health care.
I've known and liked Reid for many years; nevertheless, I've watched him move steadily to the left since he became majority leader. He eked out a narrow victory over John Ensign in 1998, and I think he faces another tough re-election battle next year. The former amateur boxer is a scrappy guy, however, so don't count him out just yet. After all, he continues to deliver the "good" pork for Nevada.
According to the Washington, D.C.-based Mason-Dixon Poll, Reid trails potential Republican challengers Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian by double digits. But I'm skeptical about this poll and have questions: (1) What do those Easterners know about Nevada politics? and (2) Do they balance their polling between the South (Las Vegas), where voter turnout is low, and the rest of the state, where more of us go to the polls?
Tarkanian lost a race for secretary of state in 2006 and Lowden, a former GOP state chairman, faces a right-wing revolt in her own party. Republicans who supported the maverick candidacy of Rep. Ron Paul accuse Lowden of "stealing" the election for GOP candidate Sen. John McCain. And maybe she did.
With a $25 million war chest and support from a popular president, Reid will run a strong re-election campaign next year. Republicans will need more than wishful thinking to beat him.
• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, has been a Nevada voter for nearly 50 years.