Reid trials: personal and political

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada had some difficult days leading up to the election, including a personal tragedy that did not stop political problems.

At the Nevada Governor's Banquet marking the 150th anniversary of statehood, Reid failed to appear as scheduled. Gov. Brian Sandoval told the crowd Reid had flown back to Washington, D.C., to be with his daughter Lana who was headed into surgery and asked for a moment of silence for the Reid family. Reid's office declined to disclose the nature of the surgery.

Lana Reid was injured in a March 2010 Virginia traffic accident in which the senator's wife, Landra, suffered a broken nose, broken back and broken neck.

A few days before the surgery, Reid was the subject of speculation on whether he could command the votes of two female Democratic senate candidates for reelection as Democratic leader. Those candidates are Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Michelle Nunn of Georgia.

Landrieu, a third-term incumbent in a three-person race so close that it posed the possibility of a runoff, distanced herself from the Democratic Party generally and President Obama and Reid in particular. After saying she would vote to reelect Reid as leader, she changed to, “We'll see. I think Harry Reid gets beat up more than he deserves. And I'm not saying yes and I'm not saying no.”

Nunn's father, former Sen. Sam Nunn, took a wildly off-message shot at Reid on Oct. 3. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, “Michelle Nunn's father also said his daughter, the Democratic nominee for Senate, has little obligation to support Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., should Democrats maintain the chamber in November—given that Reid, in the spring of 2013, asked her not to run for Sam Nunn's old seat. ‘They said they had their eye on another candidate,' Sam Nunn said. Presumably, that other candidate would have been U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta, whom many Democrats were attempting to lure into the contest at the time.”

In 2006, Reid helped force Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett out of the Ohio U.S. Senate primary race in favor of competing candidate Sherrod Brown (“Friendly fire,” RN&R, Feb. 23, 2006).