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October 1, 2014

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Can Harry Reid keep 60 Democrats? Analyst not so sure

WASHINGTON -- Hello, Early Liners. Lots of moving parts today so here’s an afternoon political round-up for your perusal.

So long 60?

The Massachusetts election next Tuesday to replace former Sen. Ted Kennedy is a toss-up as Republican Scott Brown benefits from the electoral mood shift in the race against Martha Coakley, political analyst Stu Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Report in Washington said today.

“Democratic desperation and other compelling evidence strongly suggest that Democrats may well lose the late Senator Edward Kennedy’s Senate seat in Tuesday’s special election,” Rothenberg writes. “Whatever the shortcomings of the Coakley campaign (and they certainly exist), this race has become about change, President Obama and Democratic control of all of the levers of power in Washington, D.C.”

Not good for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s ability to move the health care bill and President Barack Obama’s agenda in the Senate.

More electoral gazing

A new poll out today offers additional insight on the state of play in Nevada heading into the 2010 election.

The folks at Public Policy Polling tested the waters should Reid drop out of his difficult re-election race (highly unlikely) and make way for other potential Democratic candidates.

These are robo-calls – you know, press one if you’re for candidate A, press two if you’re against. Not our most accurate crystal ball.

With that warning, here are the results: The poll found both hypothetical candidates, Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley and Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller, losing in potential match-ups against Republican Senate front-runners Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian.

Mayor Oscar Goodman, were he to run as a Democrat, would beat Lowden (by two points) and tie with Tarkanian. You can read the full poll here.

Reid vs. Lieberman (vs. unnamed associates)

Reid and Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman are engaged in a bit of historical revisionism over comments attributed to Reid in a New York Times in a magazine profile running Sunday.

Reid is quoted by associates in the piece as saying Lieberman “double-crossed” him by announcing on a Sunday morning political show that he would oppose the now-abandoned Medicare buy-in compromise in the health care legislation.

Lieberman’s office said the Connecticut senator had sent Reid a confidential letter days before the Dec. 13 show explaining his problems with the Medicare proposal. The letter said that while Lieberman had supported a Medicare buy-in during the 2000 presidential election when he ran on the Democratic ticket with Al Gore, “that was a very different time.”

“Senator Lieberman does not believe that Senator Reid would say the words attributed to him by anonymous sources in the New York Times Magazine,” spokesman Marshall Wittmann said.

The statements are “completely false, untrue and have absolutely no basis in fact,” he said. “Senator Lieberman was crystal clear to Senator Reid concerning his opposition to the Medicare-buy in proposal.”

Reid’s office followed up with the senator’s own statement:

“Senator Lieberman and I have a very open and honest working relationship,”

Reid said. “On issues ranging from foreign policy to health care, even when we disagree, he has always been straight forward with me.”

Friendly fire on health care

Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, among the chamber’s more liberal members, is crying foul over the special treatment given to certain senators in the health care bill.

Without naming names, Feingold wrote in a letter to Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today:

“Several provisions were included in the health reform bill that create, rather than diminish, inequity… These provisions should be omitted from the health reform bill brought to Congress for final consideration.”

Feingold essentially fingered the deal for fellow Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska to provide 100 percent federal funding for an expansion of Medicaid in his state and another for Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who won an exemption to Medicare cuts in senior-heavy Florida.

Can Reid hold 60 votes without the sweeteners?

Obama to the House

Nevada’s House members, Rep. Shelley Berkley and Rep. Dina Titus, are scheduled to be among those meeting with the president this evening when he speaks to the Democratic caucus.

We’ll see if the Nevadans and other Democrats are receptive to the deal the White House reached with organized labor to exempt unions from the new tax on Cadillac health care plans – which had been a sticking point for Titus and Berkley.

That’s all for now. Check back later for all the political news in Nevada.

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