Author Topic: Harry Reid  (Read 89 times)


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Harry Reid
« on: October 31, 2005, 07:40:15 AM »

Harry Mason Reid (born December 2, 1939) is the senior United States Senator from Nevada and a member of the Democratic Party, for which he serves as Senate Minority Leader.

Early life and work
Reid is a converted member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a native of the small mining town of Searchlight, Nevada. His father was an alcoholic gold miner who committed suicide. Reid attended Basic High School in Henderson, where he had as a history teacher Mike O'Callaghan, who would play prominently in his future. Reid received his A.S. from Southern Utah State College in 1959 and in 1961 earned his B.S. from Utah State University. He moved to Washington, D.C. and worked as an officer for the U.S. Capitol Police while attending George Washington University for his J.D., Reid graduated in 1964 and returned to Nevada to work as a lawyer in the state before entering politics, serving from 1968 to 1970 in the Nevada State Assembly and then being elected lieutenant governor in 1970, the same year his mentor O'Callaghan was elected governor. He served in that office until 1974, when he ran for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Alan Bible. He lost by fewer than 600 votes to former Governor Paul Laxalt.

Reid then served as Nevada state gaming commissioner from 1977 to 1981, a post which subjected him to death threats. Reid's wife once found a bomb attached to one of their cars. A character in the film Casino played by Dick Smothers is based, in part, on Reid. An attempt was made by Jack Gordon (who would later manage and marry LaToya Jackson) to bribe Reid. Reid allowed the FBI to tape Gordon's attempt to bribe Reid with $12,000, at which point Reid attempted to strangle Gordon, saying "You son of a bitch, you tried to bribe me."  ;D

National political career
Nevada had been represented by only one member of the United States House of Representatives since statehood, but tremendous growth in the 1970s resulted in the state being split into two districts. Reid won the Democratic nomination for the 1st Congressional District, based in Las Vegas, in 1982. He was easily elected in November and served two terms there, from 1983 to 1987, being reelected in 1984. He was elected to the Senate in 1986, now succeeding Laxalt. Reid was reelected in 1992, 1998 and 2004. He narrowly defeated his Republican opponent in 1998, future Senator John Ensign (Ensign won Nevada's other Senate seat in 2000), and his Republican opponent in 2004 was Richard Ziser, whom Reid defeated by a vote of 61%-35%. Mike Ensign, Senator Ensign's father, contributed $2,000 to Reid's 2004 Senate campaign. In 1999, Reid became Minority Whip, and the right hand man of Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

On November 16, 2004, Reid was elected Senate Democratic Leader and Minority Leader for the 109th Congress, following Daschle's defeat in his bid for reelection.

During the Congressional recess of 2005, Reid suffered what doctors called a "transient ischemic attack", also known as a mini-stroke. He sought medical help at the advice of his wife, Landra. His press secretary said there would be "no complications or any restrictions on his activities" due to the attack.

Opinions, beliefs and personal traits
Harry Reid's exact position on abortion is difficult to pin down. Some consider him to be pro-life, or an opponent of legalized abortion, because of his vote against support of Roe v. Wade in 2004. Reid subsequently refused to answer whether he wants Roe v. Wade overturned. However, Reid proposed that Bush name one of four fervently pro-life Republican senators--Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (who promptly said he wasn't interested), Mike DeWine of Ohio, Mel Martinez of Florida and Mike Crapo of Idaho--to fill the seat on the Supreme Court ostensibly vacated by Sandra Day O'Connor. But he voted against John Roberts, nominated to replace Chief Justice William Renquist on his death, Bush's first Supreme Court nominee, in part because he claimed Roberts hadn't shown enough devotion to the protection of women's rights. Reid received a 100% rating from NARAL in 2001, and from 1995-2004 voted with the interests of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association 69% of the time. However, in 2003 and 2004, Reid received a 29% and 20% rating, un-respectively, from NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Reid was the first Senator to express support of President Bush's second nominee to the Court, Harriet Miers. Bush had discussed the selection with Reid in advance of the announcement. After Miers withdrew her nomination, Reid asked Bush not to reward the religous right's "bad behavior" by appointing a right-wing idealogue.

Reid is an opponent of tort reform. He does not approve of same-sex marriage, but is against a constitutional amendment defining marriage.

Reid converted to Mormonism after he married; he is currently also the only Mormon Democrat in the Senate. Four other members of the Senate are Latter-day Saints, but they are all Republicans.

Reid is known for speaking his mind. He made headlines in May of 2005 when he said of President George W. Bush, "The man's father is a wonderful human being. I think this guy is a loser."  :D Reid later apologized for these comments. Reid also called Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas an "embarrassment" and referred to Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan as a "partisan hack." When asked to justify his comments about Justice Thomas, however, Reid was unable to support his claim that Thomas's opinions were "poorly written," leading to accusations of racism; the Congressional Black Caucus told Reid that his comments crossed the line. "I think all of us ought to focus more on substance and less on stereotypes and caricatures," Rep. Mel Watt said.

When the Republicans threatened to invoke the nuclear option, Reid became one of the option's most fervent opponents. He threatened to virtually shut down Senate business if it were successfully invoked. However, when the Gang of Fourteen reached a compromise, he embraced the compromise with open arms. The real president ;)

Reid is married to Landra Gould, a Mormon convert from Judaism. They have five children.