Nevada GOP: Brown victory foreshadows Reid defeat |

Nevada GOP: Brown victory foreshadows Reid defeat

Associated Press Writer

Republican leaders predicted Wednesday the GOP victory in the Massachusetts Senate race will spur a similar renaissance in Nevada and lead to the defeat of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid in November.

State GOP Chairman Chris Comfort, in a conference call with reporters, said the win by Scott Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley signals a “sinking ship” for Reid, the Democratic majority leader.

He said Brown’s victory, coming on the heels of Republican governor victories last fall in New Jersey and Virginia, “will pale in comparison to what we’re going to do to Harry Reid.”

Democratic strategists countered that Reid is well-positioned for the campaign, and the political landscape can change dramatically in the months ahead.

“I don’t think Massachusetts has anything to do with Nevada,” said Billy Vassiliadis, a Democratic adviser.

Coakley, who enjoyed substantial polling leads last fall, had been considered a shoe-in just days before Tuesday’s special election. But Brown’s campaign closed the gap by riding a wave of voter anger and frustration over Washington politics.

In the aftermath, Coakley has been criticized by some for not campaigning hard enough for the seat held for decades by Sen. Edward Kennedy, who died last year.

Reid’s campaign acknowledged challenges ahead.

“In these tough economic times, the political climate is difficult for any incumbent regardless of their track record delivering on the issues that matter,” Reid campaign manager Brandon Hall said in a statement.

He said the campaign will take nothing for granted.

“While the national media made the Massachusetts race focus on Washington, our campaign has always been about who can best deliver for the people of Nevada,” Hall said.

Coakley’s loss in the liberal state could signal big political problems for President Obama and the Democratic Party this fall when House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates are on ballots nationwide.

“There is a downward trend,” Comfort said.

Vassiliadis and others said Nevada Republicans first must nominate a credible candidate from a field of more than a dozen contenders.

Sue Lowden, a former state senator and state GOP chairwoman, and Danny Tarkanian, a lawyer and son of former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, are considered the front-runners.

Comfort said voter disapproval of health care reforms pending in Congress and government bailouts will unite the Republican Party and attract independent voters.

Active voters registered as Democrats in Nevada outnumber Republicans by about 84,000, according to statistics from the secretary of state’s office. About 175,000 are registered as nonpartisan.