Harry Reid is no stranger to nail-biting bids for re-election and the 2010 election season is proving no different.
Caught in a neck and neck fight for his seat, the Senate Majority leader pulls few punches when discussing his Republican rival, former Nevada Assembly member Sharron Angle.
"Someone that wants to phase out Medicare, get rid of Social Security. Someone that wants to privatize the Veterans Administration, someone that wants to get rid of the Department of Energy, the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency. Someone who says that we didn't need to get more money for teachers," says Reid of Angle, underscoring his main message that she is too extreme to represent Nevadans.
Angle has taken a page from Reid's playbook, in recent television spots depicting the Senator as extremist who is to blame for Nevada's flagging economy.
"What Harry Reid has done in this state and across the nation has caused us here in Nevada to have the highest unemployment rate at 14.3 percent, the highest foreclosure rate in the nation and the highest rate of bankruptcy," says Angle who believes Reid's record in Washington is reflective of what she calls old boy politics and backroom deals that do not benefit every day Nevadans. With less than two months to go before the election, voters face a barrage of television advertisements coming from both campaigns and special interests.Last week, Crossroads GPS, a Texas-based conservative group with ties to GOP strategist Karl Rove, spent nearly one million dollars to air a spot throughout the state criticizing Reid.
Meanwhile Reid picked up what might seem as unlikely endorsements. Former First Lady of Nevada and Republican, Dawn Gibbons made two campaign stops on behalf of Reid. Local Las Vegas law enforcement had event for the Senate Majority leader too. And Tuesday, self-described conservative, MGM-Mirage CEO James Murren, renewed his support for the Reid saying the state's economy could not withstand losing Harry Reid's influence.
Polls do not indicate an easy race for either candidate. Senator Reid leads each by only a small amount and within each survey's margin of error. Angle was dealt a blow in August when the Las Vegas Review Journal published statistics that indicate two-thirds of those who plan to support her, wish they could vote for an alternate Republican candidate.
Political observers say galvanizing her base will base will have to become a priority for the Angle campaign in the coming months, and that the Reid campaign cannot underestimate her power to do so.
"I think he would have been if the quality of his competition been a little bit better," says David Damore, Political Science Professor, with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. At the same time, Sharron Angle has a very passionate base. She has been able to tap into the Tea Party funding and all those things that may make the campaign stronger than he had anticipated."
Post Labor Day, the candidates are focusing on boosting their economic credentials and discrediting each other's, which may prove the most salient issue for races both in the Silver State and across the nation.