Smear campaign

Legal affairs secretary to California Gov. Jerry Brown during his first term in office 30 years ago, more recently a big-time Democratic donor appointed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to the president's prestigious Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, attorney and businessman Byron Georgiou appeared to be an up and coming player in Democratic Party ranks.

Then, in the past week, things went terribly wrong for Mr. Georgiou, in a terrible hurry.

His former patron, Sen. Reid, didn't merely refrain from endorsing Mr. Georgiou's candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by scandal-plagued John Ensign. No, Sen. Reid went much further. "Given Byron Georgiou's financial history, and the ethical concerns raised regarding his tenure at the FCIC, Senator Reid regrets appointing him to the commission," a Reid aide said last week.

Then -- talk about coincidence -- Nevada union leaders this very Wednesday called a news conference to criticize Mr. Georgiou over reports a company in which he invested manufactures products in China.

"You should be doing everything you can to create jobs in America, not China," said Danny Thompson, secretary-treasurer of the Nevada AFL-CIO. "I don't know if I can support anyone who is doing business in China and then wants to represent me in the United States Senate."

Oh, the humanity! Will all the firms that use no Asian-manufactured components please form a line on the left? Hello?

There are no coincidences here, of course. The notion that the actions of Sen. Reid and Nevada's union leaders are "uncoordinated" isn't even worth a rim shot.

What's happened since Mr. Georgiou announced his candidacy for Mr. Ensign's former seat is that Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., has gotten into the race.

Sen. Reid immediately endorsed Rep. Berkley, who is widely believed to have the best chance to capture the seat from newly appointed Republican Sen. (and former 2nd Congressional District Rep.) Dean Heller.

At that point, not too much imagination is required to surmise that some signal went out from Sen. Reid to Mr. Georgiou that this was no longer the proper seat for him to pursue. But Mr. Georgiou has so far declined to bow out of the race, meaning Rep. Berkley may face a costly primary election.

And that's why we now see the Democratic establishment mount a smear campaign against Mr. Georgiou.

Leaving the race open so the voters can decide for themselves at the polls? As his adopted father tells Steve Martin's character near the beginning of the film "The Jerk," "THIS ... is a hole in the ground."