Las Vegas Sun

July 26, 2014

Currently: 90° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

The Senate Race:

Prominent Republicans coming out in support of Harry Reid

Click to enlarge photo

Sig Rogich is a former consultant for GOP governors Kenny Guinn and Jim Gibbons. Rogich says Republicans are "setting aside the ideologies for the betterment of the state."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s re-election campaign has received several endorsements, but perhaps the most unusual one has been from an upstart band of his regular rivals, who have come together to support him under a banner that screams “swing vote”: Republicans for Reid.

The GOP group, formed well in advance of the midterm elections last year, has been slowly adding to its ranks ever since. For the most part, the 400-plus Republicans making up the list are prominent business owners, politicians, and political consultants with deep GOP ties — such as their leader, Sig Rogich.

Many have lent their names to the Reid campaign because they have long histories with him; many others have simply determined that Reid’s policies and clout would better serve the state than Sharron Angle’s.

But this is far from a band of boosters. Insofar as organized efforts go, Reid’s Republicans are a club without a clubhouse, a fraternity with no sacred oaths or traditions, a decentralized machine where all one must do to become part of the apparatus is sign on the dotted line.

Republicans for Reid is, in effect, a cross-section of the party’s disenchanted. But although their message has made headlines, the true test of their efficacy as a movement depends on what happens at the polls.

So far, those aren’t showing a remarkable turning in the tide.

“We’re getting over 90 percent of the Republican vote, so they might be one of the most ineffective coalitions in campaign history,” Angle spokesman Jarrod Agen said of the swing-vote campaign.

That 90 percent is from internal Angle campaign polling, but recent public polls aren’t showing a much rosier picture for Reid: a Las Vegas Review-Journal/KLAS Channel 8 poll from mid-October put Republican support for Angle at 84 percent of registered party voters.

In a race this close, just a few percentage points could be enough for a victory. But it’s not clear how much further Republicans rallying for Reid will be able to push their effort, when not all on the list are equally engaged.

Some, like Rogich, the group’s founder who otherwise has a long history of Republican political dealings, are vigorous and vocal in their support of the senior senator.

“To lose Sen. Reid would be catastrophic for Southern Nevada,” Rogich said. “We need Harry Reid at the table. He’s our only leverage. If we elect Sharron Angle, it would probably be the most embarrassing moment in Nevada’s history.”

Among the reasons Rogich embraces Reid: Last year the senator, who had supported construction of a maglev transportation system to link Las Vegas and Southern California, switched his support to DesertXpress, a more conventional high-speed train that Rogich backs and that Reid had concluded was a more viable choice.

For other Republicans, there was no luster in joining the list.

“I’m a little confused still, to be honest with you. I think it’s absolutely frightening that these are the candidates we get,” said Sam Francovich, owner of the Grill at Quail Corners, a Reno restaurant. “But from everyone who’s running at this point, he’s the best choice we have.”

The two men represent the opposite ends of a spectrum. Rogich, the influential rabble-rouser, has been raising money and pressing flesh to turn out votes for Reid; Francovich, the small-business owner, is not moved to do more than reluctantly promise his vote.

The Reid campaign appears to be content with that variance.

“The fact that Sen. Reid has earned the support of so many mainstream Republicans and high-profile Republican leaders is testimony to just how extreme and dangerous Sharron Angle’s agenda for Nevada would be,” Reid campaign spokesman Kelly Steele said. “Republicans for Reid has been a critical component of this campaign’s success.”

To make a difference though, Reid’s Republicans have to deliver far more than their names.

For some, the risk of helping is just too great — or distasteful.

There’s a risk in breaking from the GOP to support Reid, even in a year in which the state Republican Party is more or less in disarray.

Perhaps no one on Reid’s list is more aware of this than state Sen. Bill Raggio, who has endured a cavalcade of calls to remove him as Senate minority leader, a position he was expected to easily retain.

Bill Raggio

Bill Raggio

Raggio says he has no intention of doing extra work for the campaign.

“The short answer is, I issued a news release, and that’s all I have to say about it,” Raggio said. “I said what I thought about Reid, and that I was reluctantly willing to vote for him. So I’m not going to enlarge upon that.”

But in that news release, Raggio noted that Angle challenged him in a primary for his Senate seat two years ago in a “very negative campaign (that) distorted my record” and that she “lent aid and comfort to an effort to recall me” as state senator.

Whether Raggio pays a price for supporting Reid remains to be seen; Republican bigwigs who support Reid risk being ostracized from their party down the line.

But they just aren’t thinking about that right now.

“I’m sure there will be some criticism,” said state Sen. Dean Rhoads, the most recent addition to Reid’s list of Republican supporters. “But I’m not too concerned about it.”

Despite that, Rhoads said he doesn’t expect at this point to get too heavily invested in the ground game, although he says he thinks he’s “changed a lot of votes talking to people.” Other elected officials, such as Reno Mayor Bob Cashell and Sparks Mayor Geno Martini, have made several public appearances on behalf of Reid, sometimes serving as his surrogate for rallies and other campaign efforts.

But when it comes to the ground game — phone banking, fundraising and community outreach — it’s been the business owners making the strongest showing.

Scott Nielson, executive vice president of Station Casinos, has been working through a political action committee to solicit donations and send out mailings encouraging traditionally Republican voters to cast their ballot for, among others, Reid.

“People in Nevada are very accustomed to not voting strictly by party. They vote for the person who is best suited for the position,” he said. “As the majority leader, he’s in a position to get things done for our state that a more junior senator couldn’t get accomplished.”

For others, the ground game has just been about talking.

“I’ve been reaching out to fellow members, community people, people that I work with, that I know in the state, and that’s basically been it,” said Maggie Arias-Petrel, a director with the Latin Chamber of Commerce, which has not as an organization endorsed a candidate. But its president and CEO, Otto Merida, is also a Republican for Reid and has been employing the same sort of tactics: talking to community leaders — church pastors especially — and hoping they get the word out to the community.

“There are two things you can deliver to help campaigns — you can deliver votes, and you can deliver money,” Merida said. “We are limited in money … but we have voters.”

Arias-Petrel, Merida and Nielson lent their names to Reid’s roster early on — but all said they were inspired to do more for Reid than simply lend their names to the effort after Angle’s campaign never attempted to reach them.

The Republican effort, of course, has areas of strength. Fundraising is the main one.

“We tell people, look, we don’t happen to agree with 100 percent of the policy matters that come before Harry Reid, but we’re setting aside the ideologies for the betterment of the state,” Rogich said.

But their activities are rarely orchestrated — each does what he can.

“It’s not a club where we coordinate a strategy,” Nielson said. “It’s really a matter of having like-minded people who happen to be Republicans.”

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 21 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. I have had numerous republican friends and business associates tell me they will vote for Harry Reid.

  2. Ha! Pull any of my earlier blogs.

    I said from the start that Angle was just a ringer.

    The woman has done everything, but announce that she's sold her soul to Satan, to lose this race.

    The day before elections, she'll probably do a topless pole dance and sign with Palin for a Playboy photo shoot.

    This is a tragic set-back for the illusions of freedom and Democracy, but I can't stop laughing.

    This is so bad, it's funny. You go, Harry!

  3. Anyone with half a brain...

    WE NEED HARRY REID.

    Nevadans, VOTE for YOUR OWN interests; NOT Karl Rove's and the Koch Brothers' interests...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gDsBPOkP...

    http://www.americancrossroadswatch.org/i...

  4. Oshijuru: heart to heart, mind to mind

    There are many legitimate reasons to not support Reid, but the Iraq War was a fraud...as was the Viet Nam War.

    Do you know why the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor?

    Do you know the REAL reason why America dropped the SECOND atomic bomb on living people?

    Be very careful about wildly waving the flag around or too high.

    And Oshi...I'm an Air Force vet...Top Secret, ex-nuclear missile, launch crew-member.

  5. I'm just taking a guess here, but could this have more to do with the all mighty dollar (pork) than ideological support?

    :P

  6. I commend these 400 plus prominent Republicans for choosing what is best for Nevada. Even if it goes against party politics.

    In these weird political times, I know they are probably taking flack for making this decision. And their ability to stick by a choice, to do what is right for Nevada and not worrying about Tea Party hypocrisy and being labeled falsely as RINOs and traitors and other stupidity is simply admirable.

    I am pretty sure even after crossing party lines making their choice in this Senate race, they can still hold their heads up proudly.

    Because the simple truth of the matter is that, when you look at Sharron Angle, it all boils down to this: Crazy is crazy. And you can't change it.

  7. There is a clear choice here and its gotta be Harry Reid. Angle is NUTS and she's proven it time after time. Palin is nuts too and she's been Angle's puppeteer with funding from Rove who should be in a federal penitentiary trading cigarettes as ca$h.

    Hold your nose if necessary but vote for Reid,...its much too early in this recovery to slam the door shut on the Democrats just because it hasn't opened wide enough yet. They have been obstructed at every turn by Republicans who hate this president because of his color.

    They trot out loons,...the insane tea party crowd with 17th century ideas. We need to move forward with Democrat leadership since the Republicans have nothing at all besides more tax cuts to the wealthy and fabricated lies they want Fox spewing to the nation.

    If power returns to the Republicans we give back everything with possibly never having another opportunity to correct 8 years of Bush's illegal illegitimate occupation of the White House, or the 30 years since Reagans onslaught of the unions and good paying jobs in America. The Republicans have conned America for decades and its time voters woke up and understood that a vote in this upcoming midterm for ANY Republican is a vote against their own best interests. Not voting at all for any party,...sitting home on your hands is a vote for the Republicans,...a party who simply doesn't care about America, its people, or the truth.

    Vote for HARRY REID!

  8. It's time to man-up, Sharron.

  9. Harry is the scum of the earth and if he wins, Nevada loses...
    Only someone who supports Obama and his corrupt, distructive plans for American could support Dirty Harry...
    Vote for Harry and all is lost for Nevada. It's sad they are so many fools in the state...

  10. RINOS - In this case bet hedgers, fence sitters and cowards. These are the folks who will vote for the same mistakes the RINOS made last time they had a chance to do the right thing.

    As Reid is the Senate Majority Leader and Angle is at best a freshman with no juice - if elected, the real choice is between more spending, higher taxes - the Obama agenda, and a chance to stop the destruction of the country.

    The real choice is between more back room deals, more immoral compromises with the radical left, further removal of our personal freedoms and an opportunity to restore some integrity to the process and support American sovereignty and independence.

    That makes any RINO support of Harry Reid an offense against the nation.

    And no I didn't vote a straight ticket, and yes I did vote for three Democrats and two selected NV (no votes) yesterday in early voting. But I didn't vote to harm the nation.

    A vote for Harry Reid is a vote to harm the nation. Those who vote to benefit themselves at the expense of all Americans (Harry please bring home the pork - which is no more than stealing from others) are reprehensible, selfish and disloyal.

  11. Why are prominent Republicans supporting Harry Reid you ask? Let's face it, its MONEY! The question should be is that a bad thing! Gaming is what makes our economy run. So let's be honest, who would you rather want in Washington pushing our state's agenda? It's obvious to the gaming industry who they want. I may not be a genius, but I do know when casinos are profiting so am I.

  12. If Harry is such a stellar candidate, why are his ads so negative? This man has been in Congress for 25+ years and all he has to show for it is negativism and attacks.

    Harry is desperate and he is clinging to power like no other. Sig Rogich is a political player who follows money rather than ideals.

    The sad desperate liberals can't see the Forrest for the trees. Harry and Obama are anti gay, anti business, anti common sense, yet pro blame Bush and pro pander to union trogs.

    Personally I don't care who votes for who. I am just sick and tired of the same liberal posters who couldn't reason their way out of a wet paper bag spout off against anyone who dares think on their own and who continue to use vile language and insults against free thinkers.

    I guess the comment policy hasn't really been a deterrent to the thug mentality that continues to plague the boards.

  13. Thanks LVRocks for proving my point.

  14. Hey, I'd probably be part of the lunatic fringe and vote for Angle if I had lost my house and job. Who better than Reid, Obama, and the Democrats to blame for the residual mess Bush and Cheney left us?

    Luckily, I don't have to nor need to depend on government to pay my way through life, I own my business (which has done exceptionally well, despite the recession), and my home was bought and paid for long ago.

  15. Count mine as one republican vote for Reid. Angle obviously hates women and seniors, the EPA and the color black. I can not cast my votefor a hater.

  16. Eight False Things the Public "Knows" Prior to Election Day
    Friday 22 October 2010
    by: Dave Johnson | Campaign for America's Future

    There are a number of things the public "knows" as we head into the election that are just false. If people elect leaders based on false information, the things those leaders do in office will not be what the public expects or needs. Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:
    http://www.truth-out.org/eight-false-thi...

  17. Give them Hell, Harry. Enough said.

  18. I consider myself a Republican, but I don't blindly check a box simply because of party affiliation. I chuckle at both the left and right extremists who don't seem to be able to think for themselves.

    I will vote for Angle, however it is with considerable reservation. I believe she is a poor choice as the individual who will represent my state - but that said, I find her political platform superior than our incumbent senator.

    Both candidates have embarrassed themselves and our state with their childish, slanderish campaigns. I will be glad when the first week of November has passed.

  19. Why would the RINOs support Reid? Simple; Money and power. Reid gives freely of both to those who are in the tank for him. OUR MONEY and the power he can buy with OUR MONEY.

  20. Good. I'm glad to see that some Republicans aren't buying what the extreme rightwing are selling. Karl Rove's agenda bankrupt this country; made the rich far richer; and decimated our civil liberties. Now he wants another shot at it. Ignore the propaganda paid for by the rich who love Republican policies. Vote for Senator Harry Reid, who has done a lot for Nevada but has been slandered by those who resent his support for average Americans.