You have to wake up pretty early in the morning to be on the campaign trail before Rory Reid, the Democratic nominee for governor of Nevada.
On Friday, you would have had to hit the trail before 7 a.m. to beat Reid to Lindo Michoacan, a Mexican restaurant on East Desert Inn Road. There, he and about 35 friends watched the World Cup match between Mexico and South Africa, broadcast live from Johannesburg nine time zones away from Las Vegas.
On television, teammates Andres Guardado and Rafael Marquez saved the Mexican team from a loss with a neat pass and score late in the game, which ended in a 1-1 tie.
In the restaurant Reid showed some fancy campaign footwork of his own by slipping a brief speech into the proceedings during the halftime intermission.
"Right when the game is over we need to get back to work," said Reid, who has been campaigning for the job for more than a year. On Tuesday, he got a Republican opponent in former federal judge Brian Sandoval, who beat incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons in the GOP primary.
Then he transitioned to his favorite campaign topic, education, and why he thinks improving it is key to reviving the economy.
"Companies aren't going to come to Nevada if they don't have an educated work force," Reid said. "If all people know about our state is that less than half our kids graduate from high school, we can say all we want, companies are not going to come here."
Polls show Sandoval, an assemblyman and Nevada attorney general before becoming a federal judge, with a double-digit lead among likely voters.
But the event at Lindo Michoacan showed how Reid plans to use an organized campaign and diligent outreach to close the gap. It's a time-consuming and costly style, but Reid has raised more than $4 million and began June with $2.6 million in cash on hand.
He's held countless small events in homes, restaurants and coffee shops, where he gets one-on-one interaction with voters and urges them to reach out to their friends. As of Friday, the number of people following his Facebook page was 9,225, compared with 3,551 following Sandoval's.
It's an intimate, incremental outreach effort Reid's team is confident will chip away at Sandoval's polling advantage.
"That is the way to organize," said Hilarie Grey, Reid's communications director. "It gives people a really unique opportunity to interact with the candidate."
Although Sandoval was the state's first Hispanic attorney general and is the first Hispanic major-party nominee for governor, Reid isn't ceding any ground in the campaign for Hispanic votes. In fact, the Hispanic community is one of Reid's major targets for outreach.
One advantage on that front is language: Reid speaks Spanish, Sandoval doesn't. Reid, a member of the Mormon church, learned the language during a two-year mission to Argentina in the early '80s.
The mission, Reid said, helped him hone skills that are useful for reaching out to people in a political context.
"It is hard work but very rewarding," he said. "You are not just proselytizing , you are helping people with problems."
Assemblyman Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, who is running for state Senate, introduced Reid at the restaurant. He also reminded the audience that Sandoval has stated support for a controversial Arizona immigration law that calls for local and state law enforcement to seek proof of legal residence from people they stop for other infractions and who are suspected to be illegal immigrants.
Rosa Mendoza, a teacher and Democratic activist, said she loved that Reid opposed the Arizona law: "That, I think is admirable."
plane ride run by ethics panel
Following an intense stretch of debate and maneuvering last December that culminated in a big Senate vote on health care reform on the morning of Christmas Eve, Sen. Harry Reid had one last concern: How to get home for the holidays with wintry weather causing travel roadblocks out of Washington.
Not to worry. Reid, the majority leader, hitched a flight west with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on a plane owned by her husband, investment banker Richard Blum. Reid reported the ride as a gift on his 2009 personal finance report that he submitted recently to the Senate.
Feinstein and Blum were flying to California following the vote and invited Reid along, according to Reid staff. They flew to San Francisco, where Reid caught a connector to Reno. He spent Christmas there with his wife and part of his family. After checking with the Senate Ethics Committee, Reid reported the value of the plane ride at $3,625.
The Senate prohibits senators from accepting most gifts worth more than $49.99. There is an exemption for gifts from fellow members of Congress. There is also an exception for gifts "provided by an individual on the basis of personal friendship."
"The Ethics Committee is fully aware of this. We went over it with them every step of the way," a Reid aide said.
Stephens Washington Bureau chief Steve Tetreault contributed to this report. Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@ reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861.