LAS VEGAS (AP) – Harry Reid, the former U.S. Senate Majority Leader and Nevada’s longest-serving congressman, has died. He was 82 years old.
Reid died “peacefully” and surrounded by friends on Tuesday at his home in suburban Henderson “following a courageous four-year battle with pancreatic cancer,” according to family members and a statement. of Landra Reid, his wife of 62 years.
âHarry was a dedicated family man and a deeply loyal friend,â she said. “We greatly appreciate the outpouring of support from so many over the past few years. We are especially grateful to the doctors and nurses who looked after him. Know that he meant to him,” said Landra Reid.
Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days, she said.
Harry Mason Reid, a combative former boxer turned lawyer, was widely recognized as one of Congress’ toughest negotiators, a conservative Democrat in an increasingly polarized chamber who upset lawmakers from both parties in a blunt and blunt manner. this motto: “I would rather dance than fight, but I know how to fight.”
During a 34-year career in Washington, Reid thrived on backstage feuds and kept the Senate controlled by his party through two presidents – Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama – an crippling recession and Republican takeover of the House. after the 2010 elections.
“If Harry said he would do something, he did it,” President Joe Biden said in a statement after the death of his longtime Senate colleague. “If he gave you his word, you could bet on it.” This is how he got things done for the good of the country for decades.
Reid retired in 2016 after an accident left him blind in one eye and revealed in May 2018 that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was undergoing treatment.
Less than two weeks ago, officials and one of her sons, Rory Reid, marked the renaming of the busy Las Vegas airport to Harry Reid International Airport. Rory Reid is a former Clark County Commission chairman and Democratic candidate for governor of Nevada.
Neither Harry nor Landra Reid attended the December 14 ceremony held at the facility known since 1948 as McCarran International Airport, in honor of former U.S. Senator from Nevada, Pat McCarran.
Reid was known in Washington for his abrupt style, characterized by his habit of unceremoniously hanging up the phone without saying goodbye.
âEven when I was president, he hung up on me,â Obama said in a 2019 Reid tribute video.
Reid has often been underestimated, most recently in the 2010 election, when he looked like tea favorite Sharron Angle’s underdog. Ambitious Democrats, assuming his defeat, began to seek his leadership position. But Reid defeated Angle, 50% to 45%, and returned to the height of his power. For Reid, it was the time of the legacy.
âI don’t have people who say ‘he’s the greatest speaker,’ ‘he’s handsome,’ ‘he’s a town man,'” Reid told the New York Times in December of the same year. âBut I really don’t care. I feel very comfortable with my place in history.
Born in Searchlight, Nevada, to an alcoholic father who committed suicide at 58 and a mother who served as a laundress in a brothel, Reid was raised in a small cabin with no indoor plumbing and swam with other children in the pool of a local brothel. He hitchhiked to Basic High School in Henderson, Nevada, 40 miles from his home, where he met the woman he would marry in 1959, Landra Gould. At Utah State University, the couple joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The future senator enrolled in George Washington University Law School working night shifts as a United States Capitol Police Officer.
At 28, Reid was elected to the Nevada Assembly and at 30, he became the youngest lieutenant governor in Nevada history as Gov. Mike O’Callaghan’s running mate in 1970.
Elected to the United States House in 1982, Reid served in Congress longer than anyone in Nevada history. He narrowly avoided defeat in a Senate race in 1998 when he fought off Republican John Ensign, then House member, by 428 votes in a recount that lasted until January.
Following his election as Senate Majority Leader in 2007, he was credited with putting Nevada on the political map by pushing to relocate state caucuses in February, at the start of presidential nomination season. This forced every national party to invest resources in a state which, despite having experienced the fastest growing in the country for the past two decades, still had only six votes in the electoral college. Reid’s extensive network of campaign workers and volunteers have twice helped hand the state over to Obama.
In 2016, Obama praised Reid for his work in the Senate, saying, âI could not have accomplished what I have accomplished without him being by my side.
Nevada’s most influential politician for more than a decade, Reid poured hundreds of millions of dollars to the state and almost single-handedly blocked construction of a nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain, in outside of Las Vegas. He has often gone out of his way to defend social programs that make easy political targets, calling Social Security “one of the great government programs in history.”
Reid has championed suicide prevention, often telling the story of his father, a hard rock miner who committed suicide. He sparked controversy in 2010 when he said in a speech to the Nevada Legislature that it was time to end legal prostitution in the state.
Reid’s political moderation meant he was never in political security in his home state, or that he had complete confidence in the increasingly polarized Senate. Democrats complained about his votes to ban partial-birth abortion and the 2002 Iraq war resolution, which Reid later said was his biggest regret in Congress.
He voted against most gun control bills and, in 2013, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, scrapped a proposal to ban assault weapons from Democratic law. on gun control. The package, he said, would not pass with the ban attached.
Reid’s Senate particularly angered members of the House, both Republicans and Democrats. When then-President Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, forced Obama’s healthcare overhaul in the House in 2009, a different version was passed by the Senate and the reconciliation process failed long enough to that Republicans make it into an election year weapon that they used to demonize the California Democrat and pitched the legislation as a big government takeover. Obama enacted the measure in March 2010. But angered by the recession and inspired by the small government’s Tea Party, voters swept the Democrats out of the House majority the following year.
Reid selected a Democratic candidate who won the election to replace him in 2016, former Nevada attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto, and built a political machine in the state that helped Democrats win a series of key elections in 2016 and 2018.
On leaving office, Reid repeatedly lambasted President Donald Trump, calling him at one point a “sociopath” and “a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hatred.” .
Reid, who brushed aside verbal bickering with the calm of a veteran of politics, was known to tell his staff these aren’t life and death situations.
Reid, after all, had faced one of them even before arriving in Washington. Then head of the Nevada Gaming Commission investigating organized crime, Reid became the target of a car bomb in 1980. Police called it an attempted homicide. Reid blamed Jack Gordon, who went to jail for attempting to bribe him in an undercover operation Reid was involved in for illegal efforts to bring new games to casinos in 1978.
Following Reid’s long farewell address in the Senate in 2016, his colleague from Nevada, Republican Senator Dean Heller, said: “It has been said that it is better to be feared than to be loved, if you don’t. can’t be both. And as I and my colleagues here today and those in the gallery probably agree with me, no individual in American politics today embodies that sentiment more than my colleague from Nevada, Harry Mason Reid.
Kellman, an Associated Press writer in Jerusalem, covered Congress for the PA while Reid was the Senate majority leader. Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price in New York and correspondent Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada, contributed to this report.
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