WASHINGTON -- Sen. Harry Reid will command the biggest party majority of any Senate leader in a quarter century when the new Congress convenes in January. But the Nevada Democrat is already worried about his own re-election fight in 2010.
Sen. Reid, perhaps the most-vulnerable Democrat who will face re-election in a midterm race that is likely to favor his party once again, began interviewing campaign managers last week. The Senate majority leader also recently stepped up fund-raising.
Starting early could help Sen. Reid avoid the fate of his predecessor, Tom Daschle, who was Democratic leader for a decade before losing his re-election bid in South Dakota in 2004. The current Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, narrowly won re-election in Kentucky this year.
Sen. Reid "saw what happened to Tom Daschle and Mitch McConnell," said Republican Sen. John Ensign, Nevada's the other senator. "He saw the consequences of being the majority leader or the leader of one of the parties."
Jon Summers, a Reid spokesman, said Sen. Reid knows he will be a Republican target in 2010 and has been preparing for his re-election campaign for some time. He added that Sen. Reid's leadership position in the Senate is an asset, not a liability. "Being the majority leader means he can do things no one else can."
Democrats have picked up a combined 13 seats in the past two election cycles. In 2010, more Republicans than Democrats are up for re-election, and Democratic incumbents appear to be well-positioned overall.
Sen. Reid, however, faces a potentially tough fight. A recent Research 2000 poll of likely voters put his approval rating at 38% and his disapproval rating at 54%, a possible reflection of voters' displeasure with gridlock and partisanship in Washington. And while Nevada broke for President-elect Barack Obama by 12 percentage points in November, the state voted for President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.
As Senate majority leader, Sen. Reid is expected to play a critical role in shepherding Democratic priorities through the Senate, with a full docket of legislation up for consideration in the first year of the Obama administration.
Sen. Reid traveled to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico late last month to meet with campaign contributors. A spokesman for Sen. Reid said he expects to have $3 million in his campaign account at the end of the year, up from about $2.75 million on Oct. 1. Sen. Reid spent $7 million in his 2004 race.
Two Democratic Senate colleagues, South Dakota's Tim Johnson and Oregon's Jeff Merkley, have sent emails to their supporters seeking contributions to Sen. Reid's campaign.
"Republicans are going after Harry Reid's Senate seat in 2010, and we can't afford to lose a great Democratic leader," Senator-elect Merkley wrote in his email.
Who might square off against Sen. Reid is unclear. Nevada's Republican lieutenant governor, Brian Krolicki, declared his candidacy last month but was subsequently indicted for suspect accounting practices during his time as state treasurer. He has denied the charges...
Sen. Reid Hits the Ground Running in Uphill Re-Election Bid - WSJ.com