Published March 09, 2010
Facing dismal poll numbers in his home state, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid has devised a re-election strategy: welcome third party candidates who can split the opposition in the uphill battle to hold on to his U.S. Senate seat.
The Nevada Democrat and Senate majority leader filed to run for election to a fifth term on Monday, and said he embraces independent contenders in the race.
"They have a right to file," Reid reportedly said of prospective third-party candidates. "You have to understand that this election is going to mean more than Democrats and Republicans."
"We have the third-party candidates. We have the American Independent Party. We have the Tea Party now," he said, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.
The embattled Democrat, whose public approval is below 40 percent in state polls, is currently trailing all three Republican candidates vying to unseat him.
A March 5 Rasmussen survey of 500 likely voters found Reid behind Nevada businessman and Republican Danny Tarkanian by double digits -- 50 to 37 percent. Sue Lowden, ex-chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, leads Reid 51 to 38 percent, according to the poll. And former Nevada assemblywoman Sharron Angle, the weakest of the three Republican contenders, leads Reid 46 to 38 percent, the survey found.
Nine percent of those polled in the Rasmussen survey said they would choose another candidate, while four percent indicated they are undecided.
Third-party candidates include Jon Scott Ashjian, a successful business man running as a Nevada Tea Party candidate. Ashjian, who recently filed to run in the election, has garnered significant criticism after a report surfaced last week showing that he owed $200,000 in back taxes.
Reid reportedly said Monday that a poll for a three-way race "shows me winning the election," the newspaper reported.