Updated 1:56 p.m. | Democratic South Dakota Senate candidate Rick Weiland ramped up his effort to oust Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Friday kicking off a campaign to recruit Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., or anyone else to challenge Reid.
“This is a fight I intend to continue no matter how long it takes because it is a fight for the new leadership the Congress must have if the larger battle to drive big money out of Congress, and thus open the door to progress for all of America, is to succeed,” Weiland said in a release.
Warren has energized the progressive wing of Senate Democrats, although she has GOP admirers too .
She’s been a sought-after draw as a surrogate on the campaign trail this year in a way that neither Reid nor President Barack Obama has been, with continued speculation despite her denials that she could run for president in 2016. There hasn’t been much talk of her taking on Reid.
Weiland’s comments come after he said during a recent debate that he would not support Reid for leader and challenged his opponent Republican Mike Rounds to oppose Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., should Rounds prevail. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates the race as “Republican Favored” and with the election Tuesday it could amount to a last-ditch effort by Weiland to try to move the needle in his direction.
Weiland said he “expects help from progressive groups and voters across the nation for [the] effort and pointed to the fact that growing numbers of Senate candidates, the ones who feel the current pulse of the nation as they campaign, are distancing themselves from Reid.”
He wrote to all Senate Democratic candidates and circulated a petition seeking “a leader capable of effectively fighting big money power in the United States Senate and do not believe that Senator Harry Reid is that leader.”
Along with Warren, Weiland’s petition names as possible Reid replacements Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., “or or any other Senator willing to step forward to seek the office of Democratic Leader, and that you vote for that individual to replace Senator Harry Reid as your leader.
A raft of Senate Democratic and independent candidates declined to endorse Reid on the campaign trail.
But Reid isn’t worried, his spokesman Adam Jentleson said earlier this week and there doesn’t appear to be any serious effort among those in leadership to challenge him.
On Friday, Jentleson teed off on Weiland. “Desperation is an ugly thing and it’s sad to see Rick Weiland ending his ill-advised campaign and brief political career by attacking fellow Democrats,” said Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson.
Weiland’s effort comes after Reid had tried to recruit former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin into the race to succeed retiring Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., which resulted in the well-known feud between Reid and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who backed Weiland, a former Daschle aide.
Despite the feud, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee earlier this month decided to run $1 million in advertising in the South Dakota Senate race after polls showed Rounds’ lead was not insurmountable. A poll released Wednesday by SurveyUSA had Rounds up by 11 points.
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