In the final days before Election Day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is exercising his fundraising muscle to increase the chambers Democratic ranks, but also laying the groundwork for his own re-election bid in 2010.
Since the Senate wrapped up in early October, Reid has sought to split his time between his Nevada constituents and the Democratic Party, which on Nov. 4 is staged to enjoy significant gains in the House and Senate and may take the White House for the first time in nearly a decade. The dual role is key for Reid, who is looking to continue serving as the Senate Majority Leader in the 111th Congress while also running for a fifth term.
Earlier this week, for instance, Reid attended two rallies in Nevada for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) one with President Bill Clinton, and another to increase early voting. Two days later, Reid spent time touring a Las Vegas neighborhood flush with foreclosed homes.
A Democratic leadership aide said Reid has been focused on an overall Western campaign that includes Nevada an important player in the race between Obama and Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). The aide said that Reid played a key role in bringing the Democratic National Convention to Colorado this year, a move designed to help put the key Rocky Mountain state in play for Obama.
Beyond Reids own fortunes, the leadership aide said the Majority Leader has a stake in Nevada politics as part of the Democrats larger plan to enlarge their margins in both chambers of Congress. Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.), who is locked in a tight race against Nevada state Sen. Dina Titus (D), has been mentioned as a possible rival for Reid in 2010.
Sen. Reid is focused on fundraising to strengthen key candidates throughout the rest of the month, the leadership aide said.
In the final run-up to Election Day, Reid plans to make fundraising trips to several high-dollar states, including California, Florida and Illinois. None of those states, however, is home to a top targeted Senate race this cycle.
But a spokesman for Reid downplayed the need for the Majority Leader to attend political events for some of the top Democratic Senate challengers this year, saying the Nevada Democrat does not enjoy the type of name recognition that would dramatically alter a races results. Meantime, Reid may have reason to stay close to home: He rarely gets to travel back to Nevada while Congress is in session because of his responsibilities as the head of the Senate.