U.S. Sen. Harry Reid filed for re-election Monday morning in Las Vegas, officially launching his uphill battle to win a fifth term and salvage his four-decade career in politics.
Reid said he was confident he could win.
"I wouldn't be running if I didn't," he said.
The senator, who acknowledged he lacks charisma, said the race "is not a personallity contest."
"I'm independent, just like Nevada," Reid said. "People of Nevada know me. I'm not going to change who I am.
"I'm the same person today I used to be."
Reid faces little opposition in the Democratic primary so far, with only two little-known hopefuls filing so far ahead of Friday's deadline. But the Senate majority leader is expected to face stiff competition in the general election on Nov. 2.
Reid has been running behind in early opinion polls, making him the underdog in the 2010 race. According to the latest Las Vegas Review-Journal-commissioned poll in February, Reid won the support of four in 10 voters when matched up against his top Republican rivals who won the majority of the vote, which means his GOP opposition would win the election if it were held today.
Republican Sue Lowden, a casino executive and former state senator, is currently leading the crowded GOP field, with former UNLV basketball star and businessman Danny Tarkanian in second, followed by former Reno Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, according to the polls.
Two independent candidates have filed to run for the Senate seat.
There's also one Tea Party of Nevada candidate, Jon Scott Ashjian. The unknown, first-time Senate hopeful could siphon off conservative Republican votes, possibly hurting the GOP candidate's chances of victory and helping Reid retain his seat in what's expected to be a close race.
Reid's leadership on health care reform, which has proven unpopular among Americans who fear changes in their insurances plans, has hurt his reputation at home with more than half of Nevadans polled having an "unfavorable" opinion of the senator. Democrats and incumbents in general are having a tough election year as people become disenchanted with political gridlock in Washington.
Reid's filing for re-election comes the same day that figures show Nevada's jobless rate remained unchanged from December to January, stalling at 13 percent, while unemployment in Clark County surged to 13.8 percent. Nevada's employers cut 25,300 jobs during the month, according to the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.
In a statement before he filed, Reid said the economic recovery act, or stimulus bill, prevented things from getting worse in Nevada and the nation, but more needs to be done to create jobs. He noted that last week he led the Senate in passing the first of several jobs bills that focus on tax incentives for small businesses and investment in projects that are expected to boost employment.
"While Nevada's unemployment situation didn't worsen, it's clear there's more work ahead when it comes to helping those who are struggling, creating jobs, and getting our economy back on track," Reid said in the statement.
"Having grown up in a family that didn't always know whether there would be food on the table, I am all too familiar with how out-of-work Nevadans are struggling," he said. "I promise I'll continue to do everything I can to create jobs and get Nevada's economy moving again."
Reid grew up in Searchlight, a small mining town about one hour south of Las Vegas.
His comment on Nevada's jobless rate comes just days after he had an "oops" moment when speaking on the Senate floor about the nation's unemployment rate of 9.7 percent for February.
He said, "only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good," a comment that opened him up to immediate criticism from the Republican Party and his election opponents.
Reid later took to the Senate floor again to explain that he only meant to note that the situation could have been worse because the unemployment rate for February did not increase as was widely expected, and not as many jobs were lost as predicted.
Reid's penchant for off-the-cuff comments has caused him some headaches.
Earlier this month he remarked that men who lose their jobs "tend to become abusive," which was mocked by opponents even as crisis shelter workers said there was something to what he said.
In January, Reid apologized to President Barack Obama and African-American leaders after the release of the book "Game Change." In it Reid was quoted as saying back in 2008 that he believed Obama would be a strong candidate for president because he was "light skinned" and had no "Negro dialect."
Contact reporter Laura Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2919.