Senator Harry Reid has been selected as the next minority leader in the U.S. Senate, succeeding South Dakota’s Tom Daschle after his reelection loss to John Thune.
It was a smart choice. I met Sen. Reid on a couple of occasions when I lived in Las Vegas, and he nominated me to the U.S. Naval Academy (I also received a nomination to Colorado Springs from then Congressman James Bilbray). I’ve been watching his career since he was southern Nevada’s sole congressman in the mid 80s.
I predict he’ll be an effective leader for his party in the Senate. Unlike House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Reid is a usually moderate, never shrill, and has shown a willingness to make reasonable compromises when necessary.
Reid has his own mind and does not blindly tow the party line. He is a big supporter of the mining industry, which puts him at odds with the environmental lobby. He opposed third trimester abortion and even garnered the approval of the NRA on his gun control. A true westerner at heart (a cowboy?), he is his own man. And like many of those folks, he’s soft spoken guy with a level head who does not seek the spotlight. In many ways, Reid is the antithesis of a Bill Clinton or John Kerry.
He’s also “old school” in the sense that he made a slow climb up the ladder over many years rather than rising out of political obscurity to buy his Senate seat with a self-funded $100 million campaign as so many seem to do today. He’s also extremely dedicated to the people of Nevada, having been a lifelong resident of the state. That puts him head and shoulders above Sen. Hillary Clinton, who moved to New York specifically to run for that state’s senate seat.
It’s also worth noting that Sen. Reid knows how to take a hit for the team. Literally. In 1981, Reid chaired of the Nevada Gaming Commission and was fighting organized crime’s control over gambling in Las Vegas. The mob attempted to kill him by wiring his car to explode. The plot failed, but Reid never backed down.
Who knows, maybe one day he’ll even climb the final rung and run for president. Were he to capture the nomination, I predict he’d do a lot better than John Kerry.