Wednesday, May 27, 2009 | 2:07 a.m.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the most powerful official who has ever served Nevada in Washington, and he has consistently used his position to help Nevadans and improve the state.
Most notably, Reid has spearheaded the effort to defeat the federal government’s dangerous plan to dump nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
Since rising to leadership in the Senate, Reid has raised the state’s profile and made Nevada’s concerns a priority in Washington. Reid is the reason why Nevada’s presidential caucus was put in a place of prominence last year and why President Barack Obama visited often during the campaign. In addition, Reid has directed millions of dollars in federal money to Nevada for a variety of needs, including schools and roads.
The reward for all his good work has been an undercurrent of grumbling in Republican circles, whose members want to defeat Reid in the 2010 election. Much of that shrill opposition has come from out-of-state right-wing groups trying to tarnish Reid’s reputation. So far, all they have done is make noise — the state GOP has yet to find a viable candidate but still insists Reid is “vulnerable.”
We hope that is nothing more than hot air, because Reid is too valuable to the state. Nevadans should know that. In 1982 Republican Chic Hecht defeated Democratic Sen. Howard Cannon, who had risen to a position of power in the Senate. The result was disastrous. In 1987 Hecht, then the state’s senior senator, was helpless to stop the passage of the so-called “Screw Nevada” bill, which designated Yucca Mountain as the nation’s nuclear waste dump.
Nevadans would be foolish to dump Reid, but the senator is taking no chances. The president headlined Reid’s fundraiser Tuesday and the senator has lined up an impressive roster of supporters, including Republican heavyweight Sig Rogich. Reid plans to raise $25 million for his campaign, a clear sign that he is prepared for a tough fight.
Of course, he shouldn’t have to fight — Nevadans should be thankful to have him in the Senate for another six years.