Sen. Harry Reid topped conservative talk show host Glenn Beck and several others for the Mormon of the Year recognition from the blog Times and Seasons.
"While Reid’s faith is not always discussed as much as that of other Mormon politicians, he remains an active member of his ward," the blog said. "A fixture in Nevada politics who has dedicated his life to public service for decades, Reid has long advocated that one can consistently be both a Democrat and a Mormon."
Richard Davis, a political science professor at Brigham Young University, said that the recognition is significant and that Reid is a deserving subject.
"I was kind of surprised that it was Harry Reid, not Glenn Beck," Davis said.
That is because Beck is a high-profile television commentator with an ideology that fits with the conservative bent of many who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Reid is a moderate Democrat, and his opponents often tie him to more liberal legislators such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
"The partisan lens still plays a very strong role even in a religious community," Davis said.
That said, Davis said Reid deserves the recognition for accomplishments in Congress even if his political leanings put him at odds with many Mormons and his low-key approach does not endear him to television viewers of Beck.
Davis continued: "(Reid) has got to find a way to keep Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) voting together, and that is not an easy thing to do, and he has done it. I think his impact on policy is quite large. To the extent that things have gotten done in the Senate, I think you have to credit Harry Reid."
PROFESSOR SEES LITTLE IN STORM
Beyond the Mormon blogosphere, Reid made news last week when his 2008 remark that the nation was ready for a black president, especially one who is "light-skinned" and has "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one" was widely reported.
Outrage, umbrage, apologies and absolution ensued, with Democrats trying to smooth over the indelicate remark and Republicans seeking to exploit it for political gain.
The whole cycle reminded Rainier Spencer, a professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, that historically, the politics of race place style ahead of substance. Spencer, who founded UNLV’s Afro-American studies program, said he was not offended by Reid’s remark because it seemed the senator was making an accurate political assessment.
He also said neither of the two major parties appears to have the best interests of African-Americans at heart.
"Certainly the Democrats aren’t friends of blacks; it just turns out the Republicans are even worse," he said. "I don’t think anyone really has a whole lot of reflective intelligence about politics, or else we’d have a third party."
NEVADA’S DEMOCRATS LOYAL
Obama had reason to be pleased with the performance of Nevada’s Democrats in Congress, who gave him above-average levels of support last year, according to vote studies published this week by Congressional Quarterly.
The studies also found that with Congress as partisan as it has ever been, Nevada lawmakers largely stood united with their parties.
CQ each year tallies how presidents fare on Capitol Hill and to what extent members of Congress can be considered loyalists.
According to the newest breakdown, Obama compiled a record 96.7 percent success rate in 2009 on the votes in which he expressed a position, breaking a record set by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965.
The three Nevada Democrats supported him more than others, the studies show.
The average among House Democrats for supporting the president on 72 key votes identified by CQ was 90 percent. Rep. Shelley Berkley voted with Obama on 96 percent of the votes. Rep. Dina Titus supported the president on 94 percent of the votes.
The Senate average for Democrats, based on 70 votes, was 92 percent. Reid, the majority leader, voted with Obama on 99 percent of them, according to CQ.
On the Republican side, Nevada members were more resistant to Obama.
In the Senate, where the Republican average for votes supporting Obama was 50 percent, Sen. John Ensign voted with Obama just 38 percent of the time.
Among House Republicans, Rep. Dean Heller voted with the president 22 percent of the time, while the average for House GOP members was 26 percent.
GOP STILL SEEKING REID BUSTER
Word is there’s still pressure from Republican bigwigs trying to push either Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, Rep. Dean Heller or former Rep. Jon Porter into the race for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Reid.
One Republican with knowledge of the situation behind the scenes says at least one prominent former presidential candidate was among those applying the pressure.
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at email@example.com or 702-477-3861. Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault @stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760.