By Dave Andrusko
Described as a veteran Nevada political analyst, Jon Ralston once dubbed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) “the meddler in chief.” By that Ralston meant that Reid loved intervening not only in races involving fellow Democrats but also using ads by PACs linked to him to prop up those Republican Senate candidates Reid was convinced would be weaker in the general election.
Whatever his success in years gone by, he is “O-fer” this election cycle, writes Josh Kraushaar in the National Journal. In fact, the headline reads as follows: “If Democrats Lose the Senate, Harry Reid Deserves the Blame:
The Senate majority leader’s aggressive tactics have backfired, threatening his hold on leadership.”
You can read Kraushaar’s opinion piece here, so let me just highlight two points.
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First, as many of you know, last week Sen. John Walsh [D-Mt.] announced he was not going to attempt to retain the seat he was appointed to just six months ago. (Walsh replaced Max Baucus who left the Senate early to serve as ambassador to China.) Walsh withdrew over charges that he had plagiarized his 2007 thesis paper for the Army War College
Walsh’s “abrupt withdrawal,” Kraushaar wrote
“drew outsized coverage last week, but underplayed was Reid’s own involvement in the failed scheme. Worried about the party’s ability to hold retiring Sen. Max Baucus’s seat, Reid helped engineer Baucus’s appointment to become U.S. ambassador to China so Walsh could boost his stature in the Senate. At the time, Walsh was Montana’s little-known lieutenant governor and a Senate candidate, but Democrats believed that if he held the position of senator for a year, voters would view him more credibly.”
According to Kraushaar, Reid intervened in the Senate race in South Dakota as well. “Annoyed by the outcome”[Reid’s preferred candidate eventually passed on the race], Reid went so far as to criticize his own party’s candidate even after he locked up the nomination.”
Second, Reid had no luck meddling in Republican races either. To complete the hat trick, a PAC connected to Reid “also spent money to intervene in two Republican House primaries, both unsuccessfully.”
There were other missteps and miscalculations which you can read about in Kraushaar’s piece. He ends with this:
“While the midterm elections are emerging as a referendum on President Obama’s performance, they’re also providing a verdict on the efficacy of Reid’s tactics. Publicly, Reid is dismissive of the possibility that Republicans could regain the majority. Privately, he must know that his challenges shaping the elections to his liking are related to the problematic position his party faces this November.”