National and Nevada Republicans hope to mount a serious challenge to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2010, in part as payback for the Democratic push to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in 2008. Nevada has been trending Democratic but most voters are still to the right of the liberal party’s national agenda. Reid’s approval ratings seldom move higher than the low 50s, making him a tempting target.
A Washington Times story today highlights all these facts and reports that Reid is beefing up his fundraising in anticipation of a serious challenge. The big question is who the GOP can get to take on Reid. The Times reports: “Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), says the party is courting a strong challenger, but he’s not saying who that is.” The unpopularity of Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons threatens to drag the state GOP down in the next election cycle.
Reid last faced a tough race in 1998, when he beat Republican John Ensign by only 428 votes (a Libertarian tipped the balance). Ensign now holds Nevada’s other Senate seat. Since their bruising contest 11 years ago, Reid has climbed the Democratic leadership ladder and moved to the left on a whole host of issues, particuarly immigration and abortion.But Reid spokesman Jim Manley insists: “Senator Reid’s views are in sync with Nevada voters. He is pro-life, pro-gun, [anti-Yucca Mountain nuclear dump] and a strong champion of Nevada veterans and military bases.”