Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bonanza Column 156 – Nevada Needs Harry Reid

The GOP, both nationally and in Nevada, has Harry Reid in its crosshairs. While I can understand that – they are desperate to break the Democrats' supposed filibuster-proof majority in the Senate – Nevada Republicans' opposition to Reid is not in the best interests of Nevada.

Before we get to the latter, let's look at the "filibuster-proof majority" fantasy. Granted, given Republicans' propensity to vote along party/ideological lines regardless of the merits of the issue, if the GOP had 60 seats, they would have a filibuster-proof majority. Getting the Democrats aligned around any issue is like the proverbial herding of cats – even with 60 seats, Reid is having trouble and will probably fail at putting together 60 votes for a robust public option in the health care reform debate.

But the Republicans aren't going to have 60 seats after the 2010 election, and probably won't even break the Democrats' 60, so that's a moot point.

What is significant is that, regardless of party considerations, Nevada has one senator now. John Ensign is so tainted by his hypocritical actions (see last week's column) that, even if he doesn't resign as he should, he has no voice in the Senate. If Nevada voters are misguided enough to defeat Reid, then in 2010 we will have an impotent senior senator and a junior senator who is, by virtue of his newness, at the bottom of the Senate food chain. Given that, it won't matter which party he comes from, he will have as little influence as the pathetic Ensign.

Whatever you think of Reid's politics on national issues, it's hard to argue that he has not represented Nevada well. He's been a wall on Yucca Mountain, had major accomplishments in energy legislation, sponsored and supported significant health care bills, without even talking about health care reform, extended the Federal deduction for state and local sales taxes, and the list goes on. Space doesn't permit a full list here, but his accomplishments for Nevada are a matter of record.

I'm not saying you should ignore those things he's done or he believes that you disagree with, but I think that, on balance, an objective look at the data will show that, even considering those, on balance he's done a lot of good for Nevada, and a lot of his ability to do that good has been a function of his senior position in the Senate. It would be a mistake to trade this seniority and influence for the sake of adding one faceless name to the GOP numbers.

Nevada Republicans should take the lead among their political brethren in putting the interests of constituents – local, state, and national – above the interests of their party. Only by doing that will they take the GOP back from the domination of mindless, knee-jerk rightists like Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin.

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