HENDERSON, Nev. — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s vaunted voter turnout operation was in full swing Sunday, as grass-roots supporters and campaign operatives hit Nevada neighborhoods rich in registered Democrats who did not show up during early voting.
The Reid campaign declined to say how many voter canvass teams were spending Halloween knocking on doors for the Majority Leader, who is in a close race with tea party favorite Sharron Angle (R), a former state Assembly member. But a Reid campaign aide acknowledged that it was a statewide effort targeting hundreds of neighborhoods.
Middle school teacher Gary Murphy hosted a canvass team of about a dozen volunteers and campaign operatives in the garage of his modest tract home in Henderson, a Las Vegas suburb. The former registered Republican was fired up to do his part to help put Reid over the top Tuesday, but the 53-year-old conceded that persuading Nevada voters to re-elect the Senator has been an uphill battle.
“It’s tough; it’s not an easy sell. It’s tough when you start talking, because people are angry and emotional, and they’re not all thinking rationally,” Murphy said before heading out to knock on doors. “But I keep telling people, Hey, the Democratic Party cares about you.'”
Murphy recently moved to Nevada from South Carolina, where he had volunteered for the campaigns of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) and Gov. Mark Sanford (R) before leaving the party a couple of years ago. He said Angle is his greatest asset in his effort to persuade frustrated Democrats to turn out for Reid. Democrats view her as too “extreme” to support or accept, he added, even for those disappointed with the Majority Leader.
“Even if they’re not fully in love with Sen. Reid, which he’s doing a great job, they still see her as such a nut and such a wack job that there’s no way” they can support her, Murphy said. “I get that a lot, that we can’t have her in there. But most Democrats realize what Sen. Reid’s trying to do and [that he’s] trying to help the common man.”
Both Reid and Angle were campaigning in Reno on Sunday. The Majority Leader is scheduled to hold a campaign rally in North Las Vegas with first lady Michelle Obama on Monday morning; Angle will again be in Reno, where she is based. With just more than 48 hours until the polls close on Election Day, Angle held an edge of 49 percent to 45 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics.com average of all polls released Oct. 20 through Wednesday.
Nevada Assemblyman Ruben Kihuen (D), a candidate for the state Senate, gave the canvassers a pep talk before they left Murphy’s garage to drum up support for Reid. Kihuen said that the country, not just the Silver State, has a lot riding on how hard they work to ensure a Reid victory.
“You can raise all the money you want,” Kihuen said. “But if people don’t come out and vote, we’re not going to win this election.”