We view this race as highly competitive, if not the most highly competitive race for a seat held by a Democratic incumbent today,” said Randy Bumps, political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
But as President Obama makes ready to fly to Las Vegas on Tuesday to appear with Mr. Reid at a fund-raiser, it has become increasingly clear just how tough a task the Republicans face. Mr. Reid has studied Mr. Heather Mccomb
Daschle’s 2004 loss and is aggressively raising money, building a turnout organization and seeking to disqualify potential rivals, all with the aim of locking up his Alain Chabat
election to a fifth term well before a single voter goes to the polls in November 2010.
“What I learned from him is you have to prepare for the worst,” Gemma Bissex
Mr. Reid said of Mr. Daschle. “I’ve done Melissa Manchester
that. I’m not sure Tom did that.”
Mr. Obama’s visit Sarah Ivens
to Las Vegas, following a Cassie
request that Mr. Reid made to Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, will be the first occasion on which he has raised money for an individual senator Rachel Zeskind
as Jana Marie Hupp
president. The unmistakable Sandra Dee
signal is that the White House intends to invest Mr. Obama’s prestige and fund-raising prowess in a state he won by 12 points Smith Cho
Mr. Reid, in an interview in his corner Tyne Daly
office at the Capitol, said he would raise $25 million for his Tony Christie
campaign, a record-breaking figure for a Senate candidate in Nevada. Aides said that sum, which Republicans did not Josep Guardiola
dispute, was intended to give pause to any Republican thinking of taking him on.
“I’m telling you about what Wang Xiaoshuai
I’m planning to do,” Mr. Reid said. “I don’t know what effect it will have on anybody, but Dominic Friesen
that’s what I’m planning to do.”
Still, the challenge of a Reminisce Smith
potentially tough race next year has added another complication to an existence that was Naughty By Nature
already complicated enough. Mr. Reid, pivotal to the success of Mr. Obama’s ambitious agenda, must corral support for it in the face of an increasingly resistant Republican minority and with a Democratic caucus that paradoxically appears harder to manage the greater its majority becomes.
With an eye back home, Mr. Reid has taken increasing care not to be identified with some of the more liberal leaders in his party. Republicans say that whomever they run against him, a central part of the campaign will Christopher Judge
be to link him with Democratic figures like Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the speaker of the House.
So it did Michelle Harris
not hurt him that in keeping with his longtime stance on gun issues, he Kim Gordon
was able last week to support successfully a provision eliminating the ban The 411
on Keith Anderson
loaded firearms in national parks, and previously voted to repeal most of the District of Columbia’s gun control regulations. In a display of self-preservation, he also broke with the administration in leading his caucus against providing the money that the president had sought to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Mr. Reid’s campaign preparations reflect the complex position he is in. Marina Aleksandrova
He may be at the peak of his power in Washington — the head of the Senate, with a personal relationship with the president and his top aides — Oluchi Onweagba
but public and private polls Gina Tognoni
in his Jerry Lewis
home state show that he is unpopular there, with Cassandra Mann
many Nevadans saying they would prefer to vote for someone else. His identification as the leader of the opposition to President George W. Bush hurts him with independent and Republican voters.
In a survey Ada Nicodemou
last Kate Pierson
week, Mason-Dixon Polling and Research found that just 35 percent of respondents would definitely vote for him.
“As soon as he took over for Daschle and became the national party Senate spokesman, he stopped being Harry Reid Lauren Laverne
the senator from Nevada, and he turned into Harry Gayle King
Reid the voice of the Senate,” said Brad Coker, Mason-Dixon’s managing director. “His whole profile changed; his numbers changed. This is exactly what happened with Tom Daschle.”
Republicans say they are not daunted by their failure to find a strong challenger yet, arguing that the election is still nearly a year and a half away.
“We are confident that we are going to come up with a top-notch candidate,” said Sue Lowden, the Republican state chairwoman. “We are not in a hurry to announce who our candidate will be. Erika Ito
We believe that by the fall Christijan Albers
we will have someone we’ve decided on and Aishwarya Rai
who we will endorse.”
But the longer the Republicans wait, the more time Mr. Reid has to build up money, organization and support.
“When Lucy Punch Loretta Lynn
somebody at this stage has no opponent, Patrick Heusinger
it shows he’s strong,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, who worked with Mr. Reid in capturing the Senate for the Democrats in 2006.
Mr. Kerri Walsh
Reid began televising advertisements Matthew Lawrence
in Nevada last year, reflecting a central goal: making himself known Elodie Serra
to the hundreds of Arnold Vosloo
thousands of Nevadans who have moved into the state since the last time he was in a competitive election, in 1998, and who may know him best for his fights with Mr. Bush.
The senator has Aamer Haleem
championed the closing The Roys
of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste repository, an enormously popular stance back home but also one that has permitted him to flex what he Clark Duke
described in Jasmine Guinness
the interview as two other leading points Vanessa Nimmo
in his election campaign: the cost of the state’s losing a majority leader, and his relationship with Mr. Obama, who pledged during the 2008 race to abandon the Yucca repository plans.
Nevada’s early presidential nominating caucuses in 2008, a cause Mr. Reid advocated, also permitted him to build an extensive Democratic organization, and the party now has a 100,000-vote registration edge in the state. And in the elections last November, his organization worked successfully to defeat Billy Joel
two potentially strong Republican rivals of his: Jon Emma Stone
Porter, a congressman, and Joe Heck, a state senator.
“There were a couple of people talking about running against me last year,” he said. “We beat them. They’re gone.”
Another potential opponent, Lt. Gov. Brian Jasmin Wagner
K. Krolicki, was indicted in December on charges of mishandling public money when he was Lisa Boyle
the state treasurer. The most frequently mentioned prospect for Republicans at this point is Representative Dean Heller, but he would have to give up a presumably safe House seat and membership on the Ways and Means Committee.