It didn’t always look pretty, and Republican partisans will be sure to howl, but on the whole Sen. Harry Reid had a noteworthy year, according to pundits in their 2013 reviews.
While naming Pope Francis its Person of the Year, Time magazine declared the Senate majority leader one of the “biggest political winners” of 2013.
“He outmaneuvered Republicans in the fiscal cliff deal that opened the year, tapped lieutenant Patty Murray to successfully negotiate the budget deal that ended it, and pounded the GOP for the government shutdown in between,” the magazine said.
In November, Reid “moved to ease the Senate’s procedural gridlock by eliminating filibusters for most presidential nominees.”
It remains to be seen what the long-term fallout might be from Reid invoking the procedural “nuclear option” to weaken the filibuster. And likewise whether re-election-threatened moderate Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina will be helped or hurt by their association with Reid, who overtook Nancy Pelosi this year as a top target of GOP campaign ads.
But for the time being, Time said, the Nevadan “showed in 2013 why he’s considered the chamber’s top tactician.”
Writing in The Hill, Democratic blogger Brent Budowsky named Reid co-winner of the title “Washington Person of the Year,” along with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
“Don’t get me wrong, I am not comparing Harry Reid to the Pope, I am comparing him to Niccolo Machiavelli in the most honorable sense of the comparison,” Budowsky wrote.
Budowsky noted Reid pulled strings to get Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to be nominated ambassador to China. That would give the Democrat who succeeds Baucus a head start toward election next year in that red state.
Baucus’ departure also will shuffle Senate chairmanships, putting Landrieu in position to become chairman of the Senate Energy Committee and making her a favorite for re-election in her oil-producing state.
The Baucus-to-China move “was probably a secretly inspired masterstroke of Harry Reid because it would give a huge boost to maintaining Democrats’ control of the Senate,” Budowsky wrote.
U.S. Senate reporter Niels Lesniewski of Congressional Quarterly named Reid to his list of winners for “being able to corral his caucus behind the big-ticket agenda items of the year” including passage of an immigration reform bill.
Lesniewski cautioned time will tell if Reid and his party will pay a price for infuriating Republicans whose filibuster rights were clipped.
— Steve Tetreault
GOP: RUN LAXALT RUN
The Nevada Republican Party has a message for Adam Laxalt: Please run for attorney general against Democrat Ross Miller, who’s now secretary of state.
“Adam would not only make a great attorney general, but he’d be a formidable challenger to Miller,” the state GOP said in a petition it released on Dec. 24, asking people to sign onto the draft Laxalt movement.
Laxalt, the grandson of former Nevada Gov. and U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt, has said he’s taking time over the holidays to discuss the prospects of running for attorney general. As a lawyer, he’s got the legal training. As part of a political family, he grew up with his mother, Michelle, a political consultant who knows how to play the game.
Miller, too, is a legacy candidate. His father is Bob Miller, a Democrat who served 10 years as governor.
The Nevada GOP said Miller “can be expected to bring his hyper-partisan brand of politics” to the AG’s office.
“We must stop him!” the GOP petition said.
State Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, also has expressed interest in the attorney general’s post.
The filing period for most federal and state offices runs March 3 through March 14.
— Laura Myers
SENATORS SEEK MORE COUNTY FUNDING
As Congress reconfigures 2014 spending following the budget deal lawmakers passed this month, a group of senators is urging more money for counties in their states.
Seventeen senators in a letter last week to Senate leaders pushed for the “payments in lieu of taxes” or PILT, program, to be fully funded at $425 million. The Department of Interior distributed $401.7 million this year, a reduction due to sequester cuts.
The money is intended to compensate counties for providing firefighting and police service on federal land that cannot be taxed. Nevada counties received $23.3 million this year, with $3.1 million to Clark County.
Checks are cut to nearly 1,900 counties in 49 states. Rhode Island, where only 0.8 percent is federal land, does not participate.
“We urge you to consider the economic hardship and uncertainty that counties across the nation will face if the PILT program is not given consistent funding,” the senators wrote to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and other panel leaders.
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., signed the letter, along with senators from New Mexico, Oklahoma, Michigan, Virginia, Wyoming, Utah, North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina and Colorado.
— Steve Tetreault
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreeault at email@example.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC. Contact reporter Laura Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2919. Follow her on Twitter @lmyerslvrj.