Harry Reid, former Senate leader, dead at 82

“He’s got that curmudgeonly charm that is hard to replace,” stated Obama in March 2015.

Reid, who was the longest-serving senator in Nevada‘s historical past, had been battling pancreatic most cancers. His spouse, Landra Reid, launched a press release Tuesday night time, calling her husband a “devout family man and deeply loyal friend.” They have been married for 62 years.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday paid tribute to “a great American” and a “dear friend.”

“If Harry said he would do something, he did it. If he gave you his word, you could bank on it. That’s how he got things done for the good of the country for decades,” Biden stated in a press release.

Reid was a “giant,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a statement. “Perhaps what I appreciate most about Senator Reid’s legacy is he never forgot who he was or where he came from,” the Democratic governor stated.

Harry Mason Reid was born in a city he would characterize in his autobiography as “a flyspeck on the map” and “a boomtown gone bust.”

“I come from a mining town,” he wrote with co-author Mark Warren in “The Good Fight: Hard Lessons from Searchlight to Washington.“ “But by the time I came along — December 2, 1939 — the leading industry of my hometown of Searchlight, Nevada, was no longer mining. It was prostitution.”

Reid’s father was a miner and his mom a laundress. Reid later wrote they’d “zero” faith at dwelling, however there was one determine his mother and father revered, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In a city of “hard rocks and inhospitable soil,” their dwelling was constructed from railroad slats and had no sizzling water or indoor plumbing. At age 58, his father killed himself.

To attend highschool, Harry needed to go 45 miles to Henderson, the place he was elected scholar physique president, took up boxing, and met Landra Gould, who would turn into his spouse in 1959.

Boxing would form his outlook on life. “In a fight, you have nobody to help you,” he told Kevin Iole when chosen to the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame in 2018, including: “It’s you and that man throughout the ring.“

From Henderson, he went on to Southern Utah University, Utah State, and — since Nevada had no regulation college — George Washington University. His first stint in Washington, D.C., led to a job with the Capitol Police. “I would go to law school at GWU full-time and work full-time in uniform at the Capitol on the 3-to-11 shift,” he wrote in “The Good Fight.” He recalled feeling “pretty invisible.”

Reid returned to Nevada after regulation college, and was elected to the state Assembly at the age of 28. He by no means lacked for ambition; in 1974, he ran for the U.S. Senate however misplaced by 624 votes to Paul Laxalt.

In 1977, Gov. Mike O’Callaghan, Reid‘s old mentor and boxing coach, appointed him to lead the Nevada Gaming Commission, a job that required him to surrender all naivete he had about the state’s mob-ridden casinos. It was, Reid later wrote, “an intense, surreal time when it sometimes felt as if I’d wandered into some kind of terrible funhouse.” In 1981, a bomb was discovered connected to his spouse’s automobile.

After his four-year time period expired, he took one other shot at D.C. and this time he gained, capturing a House seat in 1982. At the top of his second House time period, when Laxalt retired, Reid captured the Senate seat he had sought 12 years earlier than.

He cultivated a fame for gruff discuss. “I speak bluntly,” Reid wrote in 2008. “Sometimes I can be impulsive. I believe something to be right, and I do it. And then I don’t worry about it. This has not necessarily served me well, but it is who I am. I can be no one else”

Years later, Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston looked at that 1986 marketing campaign, marveling at the way it had launched the Senate profession of a person he referred to as “a Machiavelli of malaprops.” Reid was, he stated, “a totally unprepossessing man and manifestly horrible candidate who nonetheless achieved unlikely marketing campaign victories and went on to achieve the top of congressional energy.

In the Senate, Reid established himself as strongly partisan, a tricky battler on Nevada and Western land administration points, and a liberal with some conservative leanings (similar to on the problem of abortion). He typically got here underneath hearth on ethics points, notably in his fondness for Nevada pursuits, together with the on line casino trade.

Reid additionally quickly developed a fame for direct insults, as when he challenged Ross Perot in a 1993 Senate listening to, not lengthy after Perot had drawn nearly 20 % of the vote within the presidential election. “I feel you must begin checking your information a little bit extra, and cease listening to the applause a lot,“ Reid informed him.

Reid grew to become a part of the Democratic management in 1995, as co-chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, then moved as much as turn into his social gathering’s whip in 1999. In November 2004, Reid watched in shock as presidential candidate John Kerry and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle have been defeated — and immediately adopted that by gathering the help he wanted to turn into his social gathering’s chief in Washington.

“By the turn of the millennium, Reid’s organization was formidable,” Ralston wrote in 2013. “He brought in talented Democratic operatives from around the country, as he grew more partisan, too, leaving behind any pretense that he was ‘independent like Nevada.‘ As he moved up in the Democratic hierarchy, Reid had to fly the partisan flag more often.”

Reid’s first massive take a look at was on President George W. Bush’s proposal to denationalise Social Security, on which he led Democratic opposition that helped to in the end doom the laws. “We will not be going to let Wall Street hijack Social Security. It will not occur,“ he informed NBC‘s Tim Russert in 2004.

Democrats gained management of the Senate in 2006, propelling Reid to the place of majority chief. After the election, Reid grew to become a extra vocal critic of the Iraq War. Never a fan of Bush, he informed the president, “Mr. President, this war cannot be won militarily. It is wrong to continue to send soldiers into a war that cannot be won militarily.”

Reid adopted that up with a public pronouncement that the battle was misplaced, one thing that Bush would later characterize as “one of the most irresponsible acts I witnessed in my eight years in Washington.” Bush and Reid didn’t usually discover themselves on the identical aspect, although Reid was credited In October 2008 with skillfully rescuing a bailout bundle that had gone all the way down to defeat within the House.

When one of many junior members of his caucus was elected to succeed Bush, Reid grew to become one of many strongest advocates for Barack Obama’s initiatives, together with his efforts to shepherd Obama’s 2009 stimulus bundle and cross what got here to be referred to as Obamacare. It wasn’t at all times straightforward, as Reid had spoken skeptically of Obama throughout the 2008 marketing campaign, and, after he was elected, Obama saved a sure distance from Congress.

“Reid handled so much of the care and feeding of the caucus,” wrote Jonathan Alter in “The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies,” “that Obama spoke even to Democratic senators he genuinely liked no more than than two or three times a year.”

For his half, Obama praised Reid’s management within the Senate. “Harry has the toughest job in Washington,” Obama informed the New York Times in 2010. “He’s done as good a job as anybody could have done. He just grinds it out.”

Obama on Tuesday shared a letter he wrote to Reid towards the top of his life. Landra had requested Obama and others to write down letters she might learn to her husband.

“As different as we are, I think we both saw something of ourselves in each other — a couple of outsiders who had defied the odds and knew how to take a punch and cared about the little guy. And you know what, we made for a pretty good team,” Obama wrote. “The world is better cause of what you’ve done. Not bad for a skinny, poor kid from Searchlight.”

Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday recalled his “honest” friendship with Reid.

“We disagreed on many things, sometimes famously. But we were always honest with each other. In the years after we left public service, that honesty became a bond. Harry was a fighter until the end. RIP, my friend,” he said in a statement.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday praised Reid’s “legendary toughness, bluntness, and tenacity.”

“I never doubted that Harry was always doing what he earnestly, deeply felt was right for Nevada and our country,” McConnell stated in a press release.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called Reid “one of the most amazing individuals I have ever met.”

“He was tough-as-nails sturdy, however caring and compassionate, and at all times went out of his approach quietly to assist individuals who wanted assist,” Schumer said in a statement. “He was my chief, my mentor, certainly one of my dearest pals.”

Much maligned by tea social gathering Republicans, Reid was the highest Republican goal in 2010. He had confronted a tricky problem in 1998 from John Ensign, retaining his seat by a mere 234 votes. Reid obtained a lift when former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle gained the 2010 GOP major over more-established Republican figures and shortly started to implode.

“In the 20 years that I’ve been involved politically, I’ve never had the misfortune of working with such sheer, utter incompetence,” said Chris LaCivita, political director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, of Angle’s marketing campaign after Reid gained by 5 share factors.

That election, nevertheless, did go away Reid with a diminished majority and put the House in Republican arms. Legislative victories can be tougher to come back by. In 2013, in acknowledgment of that actuality, Reid and his fellow Democrats modified the bottom guidelines when it got here to filibusters, vastly limiting their use when it got here to presidential appointments. “The American people believe the Senate is broken, and I believe the American people are right,” Reid stated. Republican Senate chief McConnell dubbed it a “energy seize,“ although the Kentucky Republican would make use of these guidelines as soon as Donald Trump was elected president in 2016.

“We had over 100 judges that we couldn’t get approved, so I had no choice,” Reid told the New York Times a number of years later. “Either Obama’s presidency would be a joke or Obama’s presidency would be one of fruition.”

Democrats misplaced the Senate majority in November 2014. Weeks later, the health aficionado — the boxer had over time turn into a marathon runner — sustained a serious eye damage whereas exercising. The injury to his proper eye was so extreme he underwent a number of surgical procedures and sported a watch patch on the Hill.

In March 2015, he introduced he wouldn’t search a sixth Senate time period. There was some hypothesis that he did so as a result of he feared a tricky battle in 2016, however Ralston dismissed that notion. “Reid is a lot of things: Brusque with everyone, master of strange locutions, nasty with his enemies. But one thing he is not is afraid,” he wrote.

Subsequent elections indicated Reid retained appreciable affect on Nevada politics, serving to to tug Democrats Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen over the end line in intently contested Senate elections in 2016 and 2018. Their victories have been seen as a tribute to Reid’s political power.

“It’s the only state in the nation,” Marc Caputo wrote in 2019, “whose U.S. senators are each girls and the place girls represent the vast majority of the state Legislature and congressional delegation — a triumph of progressivism and political group powered by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s vaunted political machine.“

Reid additionally remained a critic of President Donald Trump and his previous foes in Congress. “People are underneath the misunderstanding that Trump created the Republican Congress. Wrong. They created him, they created him,” he said in 2017.

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