It’s not like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to muse on the negative; usually, if you ask him what’s going to happen, he’ll talk up his Democratic Party’s chances at every turn.
But Reid, speaking in Politico, says he’s ready to serve as leader whether or not Democrats retain the majority in the Senate after November’s elections.
It’s not as if Reid or his fellow Democrats are conceding that Republicans will win the net six seats to take control of the Senate. But even talking about the possibility is somewhat unusual.
“A wide cross section of the Senate Democratic Caucus said in interviews that they are willing to back Reid as either majority or minority leader in the next Congress — no matter how controversial the Nevada Democrat has become as part of the furious battle for control of the chamber this fall,” the story says.
“Even if Democrats lose the majority, Reid’s top deputies and potential successors, including Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Patty Murray of Washington, are already committing to get behind the five-term Nevadan if he were to run as minority leader.”
Why? For one, Reid has been busy raising money for his fellow Democrats who are up for re-election this year, some in very tough races. For another, Reid has been known since his days as the minority whip for attending to Democratic senator’s individual priorities. And Democrats seem to blame the White House more for the party’s problems than they do Reid, although the senator has no problem acting as a lightening rod at times.
There are plenty of people predicting Democrats will lose control of the Senate in November, from Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight blog to the Real Clear Politics blog to even liberal MSNBC talk show host Chris Matthews. There are others who — despite Reid’s oft repeated assertions — maintain that the majority leader will not even run for another term in 2016.
It would be quite something to see Reid back in the minority, where he was known for using the Senate rules to his party’s advantage. Some of those rules have changed under Reid, most notably one that allows administration officials and judicial nominations to be approved with a simple majority rather than a 60-vote supermajority. How he’d use the rules as a minority leader would be quite interesting.
But something tells me he’s not quite ready to move out of the majority leader’s suite of offices quite yet.
Want to hear from Harry Reid himself on running for re-election, whether Democrats could lose the Senate this year, and a host of other issues? I’ll be interviewing Reid — live! — at the Review-Journal’s monthly Hashtags and Headlines event, April 17 at the Paris hotel-casino. For tickets, click here.