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Sen. Reid and son Rory each considered a burden for the other's campaign in Nevada

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By Ann Gerhart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

LAS VEGAS -- As if Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) didn't have enough problems, say hello to Rory Reid, his eldest son. Looks just like him. He's running for governor of Nevada.

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It will be Reid and Reid atop the November ballot in this state, the father running for his sixth term, the son making his first bid at statewide office. So far, this double bill is not going so great. Each candidate is dragging down the other, to look at the polls and listen to the Silver State's political oddsmakers. And neither is mentioning the other's campaign.

The elder Reid, 70, is fighting for his political survival. He has been a fixture in the state for 40 years, and he's worried that the last thing voters want is a Reid dynasty. He's already badly trailing two Republican candidates who haven't even hit 50 percent in name recognition.

Instead of getting credit for putting down insurrections and wrangling his fellow Democrats into passing a health-care reform bill on Christmas Eve, Harry Reid is getting hosed for it. Republican leaders were licking their lips at the prospect of picking him off. And that was before Reid had to activate a one-man phone tree of apology this weekend for what he called "improper comments" he made during the 2008 presidential campaign about Barack Obama's light skin and absence of "Negro dialect."

Reid, who was in Nevada on Monday to announce an electricity project, said he has "apologized to everyone within the sound of my voice," adding, "I could have used a better choice of words."

Obama and Reid's fellow Democrats have accepted his apology, and on Monday the Las Vegas and Reno chapters of the NAACP put out a statement supporting Reid. But the chant from Republicans for Reid's head continues. The Tea Party Express will begin its next tour from his home town of Searchlight, and on Monday, the group went up with $250,000 in "Defeat Harry" ads statewide.

The younger Reid, 47, is keeping his head down, raising money, trying to fend off any Democratic rivals. He is doing meet-and-greets and tending to his day job as the chairman of the Clark County Commission, the governing body of this boom-and-bust neon desert with nearly 2 million people. He's a man with a Prius and a wife on the school board and three kids.

About his race, he said: "We're doing what we need to do to win. The early polling, I'm ignoring. In statewide elections, in this state, the races are close. And the candidate with the best ideas is the one who wins."

As for his father's newest predicament, the son said, "I know my father better than anyone else who has spoken about this. . . . I know how he feels. It's clear that he misspoke. And he apologized immediately, and genuinely."

He added: "And I think he should go back to making the health-care bill be the best that it can be and doing whatever else he does."

Focusing on job at hand

This father-and-son-but-not-a-team ticket strikes plenty of people as a brazen move. But this is Vegas, where the billboards for Jesus! (the savior) and Cheetahs! (the strip club) live happily near each other off the interstate, sanctuary wherever you want to find it.

The city's current showboating mayor, Oscar Goodman, he of the fondness for Bombay gin and showgirls as official escorts is toying with running for governor as an independent. That would soak up Democratic votes that should accrue to Rory Reid, now running unopposed, with a fat war chest that former president Bill Clinton and the casino industry helped him build.


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