The Battle Royale over Harry Reid

I have remained shrewdly aloof of the whole Harry Reid re-election thing. It's gonna be bloody, and you don't need me to tell you that. However, when Senator Reid gets his own headline button on the front page of, well, that sets off alarms. (Especially when that headline is sandwiched between stories about Memorial Day and sunless tanning.)

The story is about Our Country Deserves Better, a conservative group that just released a $100,000 ad blitz to oppose Senator Reid's re-election. They hope to spend "in excess of $1 million" by November 2010. For now we'll ignore the $7.5 million already raised for Reid's cause.

There is no viable Republican candidate yet declared for the race and even Senator John Ensign acknowledges that that needs to happen "in the next few months." Why groups would be spending money on a race that doesn't yet exist seems... curious.

So let's cut to the chase: Senator Reid's 2010 campaign has so far been not a battle between the parties, but an arena for two simmering internecine fights, and it will likely remain so until nearly the end.

Our Country Deserves Better is closely tied to Move America Forward, a soft-money outfit run by pro-war California conservatives. Our good friend Deborah Johns is a regular collaborator. Y'know, that lady who attacks people's patriotism in front of incorrectly flown American flags.

What is telling is who attended the group's presser: Assemblyman Don Gustavson, who primaried long-serving Republican Assemblyman, John Marvel, and Sharon Angle, a possible challenger to Reid who tried (and failed) to ouster Nevada Senate Republican Leader Bill Raggio. These are two of the foot soldiers in the guerrilla war against the Nevada GOP.

In the article, Angle brought up California's budget catastrophe. That's a bit tactless, considering her latest patrons are the very people who precipitated the catastrophe. Not satisfied to sink their own state, they're now exporting their services to Nevada, whose lawmakers, faced with similar procedural hurdles, actually do their jobs.

Meanwhile on the left, Mother Jones has led the insurgency against Reid with much sniping and a glorious hit piece trying to slander him as a friend of the mining industry. (In other news, the Pope is Catholic.) You can bet there's more to come. Reid is not popular among die hard liberals who think he's feckless on a number of counts.

Anyway, Sharon Angle is not a viable candidate. No candidate is viable who can't win as a Nevadan first and nothing ticks off Nevadans more than sanctimonious Californians. I can think of at least one Nevada GOPer who could lick Senator Reid, but they've yet to make much noise.

Until that viable Nevadan shows up, this will continue to be just a primary-by-proxy.

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