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In Washington Today

The Beltway And Beyond

 

 

 

 

 

By Michael Green

 

4/3/2014 -- Harry Reidís Impending Re-election

 

Calm down, folks, that isn't a prediction about the 2016 Senate election.  Rather, it refers to a report from Politico that is about as surprising as the news that the sun rises in the east:  that Reid's fellow Democrats support keeping him as their leader, whether his title will be majority leader or minority leader.

A change in title is a possibility.  Republicans need to gain several seats, and they have a few things going for them.  First, in a midterm election, turnout tends to favor not only them as a party, but also their status as the opposition to the sitting president:  historically, the party on the outside of the White House looking in usually gains in midterm elections.  Second, the seats that are up are in areas that usually have gone Republican, but benefited from being on the ballot in 2008, when Barack Obama was first running and the economy was in a free fall for which voters blamed the Republican administration in office.

To be fair, it's also possible that Reid's title will not change.  The question is how well Democrats do at getting out the vote, and how the public is reacting to the impact of the Affordable Care Act.  Also, some Republican Senate races include Tea Party candidates, and their successes in the past have hurt GOP chances of winning seats from Democrats (as Reid himself can tell you from personal experience).

What makes this news more interesting than it might otherwise be is a combination of pleasant and unpleasant memories that it revives.  In 2010, there were reports on how Dick Durbin, Reid's whip, and Chuck Schumer, next in line in the leadership, were quietly maneuvering to become leader after what many saw as Reid's inevitable defeat.  All three remained and remain good friends and close allies, so that was no problem.

The less pleasant memory involves one of the most important members of the Washington press corps in his time.  David Broder, a Pulitzer Prize winning political columnist for The Washington Post, announced in 2007 that Democrats planned to force out Reid as leader.  Every member of his caucus signed a letter to The Post, saying that they supported him.  Broder dismissed that, saying that of course they would say that.  More than six years later, Reid is still there.

 

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