Harry Reid: Shelley Berkley Will Be Fine

Reid assessed his party's recruitment status in a recent interview. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Reid assessed his party's recruitment status in a recent interview. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:51pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reiterated on Thursday that he is unconcerned about the viability of the Senate candidacy of Rep. Shelley Berkley, despite the Ethics Committee launching a formal investigation of his fellow Nevada Democrat.

“Frankly, I think it’s good that this is all coming out in the open,” Reid said of the investigation while on a conference call with reporters.

“I think this is going to be fine for Shelley,” Reid said. “She’s a terrific candidate, she is a person who has always fought for Nevadans, and certainly she should fight for these people who are sick and in danger of dying.”

The Ethics Committee is looking into whether Berkley broke any ethics rules or laws when she intervened to save a kidney transplant program at a hospital where her physician husband had a lucrative contract.

Berkley is challenging Sen. Dean Heller (R) in a race that will help decide control of what will be a closely divided chamber, and Republicans believe the issue gives Heller a leg up in the race. Berkley launched two TV ads today that sought to deflect the attention back to Heller’s voting record.

Reid’s comments came on a conference call set up by the Obama campaign to mark 100 days until early voting starts in Nevada, a crucial swing state for the president. When asked how he felt about the overall Senate landscape, Reid said “it would have been a pleasant surprise” if someone had told him a year ago that Democrats, who have a 53-47 seat majority, would be in the shape they are in today.

Reid said the party is keeping a serious eye on the races of only three of its incumbents: Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.). Reid said Brown, who is facing Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, is well ahead at this point.

Without going through the entire map, Reid briefly mentioned Nevada and Arizona as solid pickup opportunities. Massachusetts and Maine are atop the party’s list of offensive territory as well, but Democrats are also defending open seats in states such as North Dakota, Nebraska and Virginia.

“We feel pretty good about where we are,” Reid said.