Wednesday, May 27, 2009 | 4:15 p.m.
Like any seasoned fighter, Harry Reid is in for the fight of his life. That's the way it is in square ring of boxing, and it is no different in the political ring. The next fight is always the biggest fight.
Today, Harry is the champion the crowd loves to hate. Like any good fighter, the Senate Majority Leader has a few scars — I'm sure one or two going back to when he first trained as a boxer under the tutelage of my father, former Nevada Gov. Mike O'Callaghan.
Big Mike, the most popular governor to serve the state of Nevada, saw something in the kid from Searchlight that perhaps others didn't see.
He had plenty of opportunity to get to know Harry well as a youth, both at the Henderson Boys Club, where Mike taught Harry boxing, and in the classroom at Basic High School, where he taught U.S. history and civics.
He saw enough in Harry to ask him to run as his lieutenant governor in 1970. He kept up with the incredible demands of Gov. O'Callaghan, who worked all hours of the day and night, especially during legislative sessions.
Harry Reid is training for the next big fight of his life. He may not be running in front of my dad's car on the dusty road between Henderson and Railroad Pass, as he used to as a boxer, but he is running the tough and demanding campaign trail in Nevada.
This campaign trail will be different from any other he has run before. Today he doesn't have a definitive opponent to speak of; yet, he has more challengers from beyond the state lines of Nevada than any candidate here has ever faced.
A likely challenger will emerge from outside the state of Nevada in the form of a carpetbagger. Don't discount any challengers from within the state of Nevada either, because there are plenty of sacrificial lambs roaming the open ranges of the state who would gladly get slaughtered for a chance at the U.S. Senate or 15 minutes of fame to use as a stepping stone in political gain.
The challengers, carpetbaggers and little lambs are busy building rhetorical land mines to scatter along the trail to VOTE 2010, such as convincing voters Harry is unpatriotic, out of touch or bad for Nevada.
The job of majority leader of the Senate is a thankless job for any member of the Senate no matter what party they are from. The leadership has to pull the entire party agenda no matter how liberal or conservative, leading the electorate at home to believe that is what the leader has become. The national spin begins to weigh heavier than 16-ounce gloves in the 12th round of a prize fight.
The reality is the numbers look bad, and the special interest groups are foaming at the mouth, thinking they have Harry up against the ropes before the first bell has rung. They don't give a hoot about Nevada or the people who live, work, are raising a family or have retired here. Their only concerns are their own agendas and how Harry Reid stands in their way.
Nevada is one of the least influential states in the union without seniority in the Congress of the United States. Without Harry Reid, Sen. John Ensign and Rep. Shelley Berkley, we would have little clout on a federal level. Nevada has a growing influence with Rep. Dean Heller, who would be wise to remain focused on his House seat to continue cultivating his growing leadership in Congress. Rep. Dina Titus is perfectly positioned to accelerate in a Democrat-led house.
Party politics has little influence on me, and it shouldn't on you. Rather, the politics on Nevada should be a main concern.
Although I have known Harry my entire life, I'm no Reid apologist. We have not always agreed on every issue, but when it comes to issues concerning Nevada, Harry is a world-class fighter.
When I said this would be a fight like no other, I meant it. Harry is no longer fighting in the square ring but rather the caged octagon with no rules and multiple challengers in all eight corners.
I can't predict the outcome, but I do know for sure Harry Reid will put up "The Good Fight."