On Jan. 5, 2008, a Truckee Carson Irrigation District canal was breached and the escaping water flooded Fernley, putting more than 3,000 people—perhaps a third of the community—out of their homes, which were filled with 3 to 6 feet of water.
When word reached U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s office, he moved quickly. The White House and federal agencies were contacted to make sure assistance would quickly become available. Reid and his Republican colleagues Sen. John Ensign and Rep. Dean Heller jointly signed a letter to the president. Reid flew to Nevada and toured the disaster area. He checked the Bush administration’s budget and found that the president had recommended cutting the irrigation project’s budget for maintenance by 81 percent. He demanded increased federal oversight of the irrigation district’s aging infrastructure. Subsequently, he introduced legislation beefing up maintenance and funding of water infrastructure throughout the West. He testified in a congressional hearing about the problem.
That’s the kind of effectiveness that Nevadans have long enjoyed in their senior senator.
Reid’s opponent, Sharron Angle, talks about “half finished casinos with idle cranes, the shopping centers with empty storefronts,” but will not disclose her plans for solving those problems—or her right-wing, out-of-state handlers and minders will not let her do so.
She attacks Reid over the state’s foreclosure problem and high unemployment, but will not explain what, specifically, she wants to do about it.
On issue after issue, she criticizes—and stops there.
Reid’s slogan, “No one can do more,” is as oversimplified as any advertising slogan, but it does contain elements of truth—and not because the senator holds an influential post. It is because he possesses legislative skills. Long before he entered the senate leadership, he was accomplishing feats that other Nevadans had failed to achieve.
Nevadans, including U.S. senators Alan Bible and Howard Cannon, had been trying to get a national park in eastern Nevada since the 1920s. Reid did it.
His immediate predecessor, Paul Laxalt, tried and failed to achieve a Truckee River water settlement. With years of work, Reid did it.
“I wish more Democrats were like Harry Reid,” said U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a conservative Republican. “He does bend over backwards from time to time to make things work between the two parties.”
Those who simply do not agree with Reid’s views should not vote for him. This newspaper certainly has been critical of his voting record, and will continue to be during his next term. We hope he will stop thinking that the Senate belongs to senators and remember that it belongs to the public. Its procedures have made the Senate an obstacle to change instead of a vehicle for it, and Reid needs to reform those procedures, particularly those that allow a single senator to stop the country’s legislation by threatening to filibuster but not actually doing so. He needs to be less oriented to Washington, D.C., politics and more to Nevadans.
Nevertheless, his policy positions are dictated by common sense and realism while those of his opponent are dictated by ideological dogma and pandering to the resentment of hard times.
But most people are less interested in ideology and more concerned with getting things done about practical problems. For such voters, Reid’s reelection is essential. Losing him would be a setback Nevada can ill afford. So would be getting Angle.