For Nevada Democrats, November’s election may prove that something more toxic than one Reid on the party’s ticket is two.
Polls show Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, 70, struggling in his bid for a fifth term, with disapproval ratings hovering around 50 percent. Efforts to rescue him reach to the White House: President Barack Obama hosts a campaign rally for Reid today at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
Absent will be the state’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Rory Reid, who will be greeting supporters in the Washoe Valley more than 450 miles away. He is Harry Reid’s son.
The Reids have been keeping their distance from one another. They’ve attended few events together, and the first statewide television advertisement for Rory Reid, 47, made no mention of his last name.
Still, the family ticket “plays into the narrative that this is not about Nevada, this is about the Reids,” said David Damore, an assistant political science professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Harry Reid is a top national target for Republicans, who say defeating him would underscore public discontent with Democrats. To hold onto his seat, Reid is focusing less on his record of guiding Obama’s priorities through the Senate and more on benefits he’s delivered back home.
Reid supporters say he caught a break when Sharron Angle, 60, a Tea Party favorite, won the Republican primary race last month. A former state legislator, Angle wants to dismantle the U.S. Department of Education and has called for privatizing Social Security for younger Americans.
Still, with anti-incumbent fervor evident across the U.S., Reid is battling voter discontent over the economy and the government’s efforts to fix it. Headwinds facing him include a 14 percent unemployment rate in Nevada, higher than June’s 9.5 percent for the U.S., and the nation’s highest home foreclosure rate. One out of every 79 Nevada households was in foreclosure in May, roughly five times the national average, according to Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac Inc..
Nevada’s gaming revenue fell 10.4 percent last year, according to the state Gaming Control Board, the largest single- year decline in state history. The decline followed a 9.7 percent decrease in 2008.
Rory Reid is trying to persuade voters fed up with Democrats in Washington to vote for one at home -- a task made tougher by his familial link to a national party leader.
“When Harry says Rory’s on his own, do you really think people of average intelligence are going for that?” said Mark Amodei, the state Republican Party chairman.
Harry Reid has stressed that his son, who presides over zoning issues and local budget matters from a Las Vegas office as chairman of the Clark County Commission, is running for the governor’s office without his help.
“He is my son, I care a great deal about him,” he said after a rare joint appearance at the state Democratic convention last month. “He will be a great governor, but he has to run his own campaign.”