Washington Prowler

Nervous Harry and Howie

Sen. Reid's Abramoff past; Chairman Dean's dispensability.

By 10.16.06

Democrats in the Senate are worried in the wake of their leader Sen. Harry Reid's shady land deal, that the full details of his relationship with lobbyist Jack Abramoff will soon come to light.

"Their relationship has been the elephant in the room, as it were, for months," says one Democratic staffer, whose boss aspires to a higher leadership position. "Some of the Democratic senators think that Reid's ties to Abramoff are why we haven't made more about the scandal than we have."

Reid is said to have told associates that the AP story on his millions dollar windfall in Las Vegas real estate will not take on a life of its own. But Democrats are concerned that Reid, who was known to have socialized with Abramoff at several Washington restaurants over the years, will continue to be a target for Republicans and the media in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Democrat National Committee Chairman Howie Dean has been asking for regular reports on the campaign activities of Sen. Hillary Rodham, and even he was surprised by the millions -- some estimate as much as $5 million -- that the junior New York Senator has poured into other Democrat campaigns of House and Senate colleagues and prospective colleagues.

Dean has been monitoring the activities of Senators Clinton, Harry Reid, and Chuck Schumer, as well as House Democrats Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Rahm Emanuel -- with all of whom he has clashed over campaign strategy, DNC fund disbursement, and
power-sharing issues.

After the 2006 election cycle, Dean is concerned that his visibility and role as chairman will be diminished if a Democrat becomes Speaker of the House or there is a Democrat Senate majority leader. Dean's role would further be diminished if a clear Democrat presidential candidate were to emerge early in the primary season. So while Democrats may celebrate after November 7th, Dean will be looking over his shoulder.

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