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Facing Tough Polls, Reid Brings Back Key Aide

With his popularity at home taking a beating, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is bringing back one of his most trusted advisers, shoring up his internal political team three years before he faces re-election in the Silver State.

Susan McCue, Reid's former chief of staff, is leaving as president of the ONE Campaign, the catch-all group founded by U2 frontman Bono to battle global poverty and AIDS in 3rd World nations and overall global health issues. While she will remain a consultant to Bono's group, McCue is returning to the fold of Reid's communications operation - an intriguing career move for political insiders watching Reid's political career.

McCue will not be part of the official legislative payroll and instead will serve as a strategic communications consultant, paid out of either - or both - Friends of Harry Reid or the Searchlight Fund. (The former is Reid's campaign re-election committee, the latter his political action committee that is used as a fund-raising vehicle for other Democratic candidates.)

McCue joins an outside team of Reid advisers that includes media consultant Jim Margolis, who as partner at GMMB is also working on the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and Doug Sosnik, a former Clinton White House senior aide.

A veteran of Reid's inner circle for more than a decade, McCue will have as one of her primary jobs resuscitating Reid's image back home, where he's been a senator since winning a narrow election in 1986. Reid barely survived his 1998 re-election fight. He edged Republican John Ensign by more than 400 votes, a loss Ensign would avenge by winning his own Senate seat in 2000. Reid had become increasingly popular this decade and cruised to an easy re-election in 2004.

Now, a year after the 2006 elections thrust him into the national spotlight as majority leader, Reid is suffering in Nevada. He is far and away the most unpopular politician in Nevada, according to a Mason-Dixon Poll conducted for the Las Vegas Review-Journal earlier this month. His job approval rating is 32 percent, which is roughly equivalent to the 30 percent approval currently held by Gov. James Gibbons, the Republican who has been dogged by a series of scandals and controversies since his swearing in this year.

But only 29 percent of the electorate outwardly disapproves of Gibbons, while Reid's disapproval is a stunning 51 percent, according to the poll. That puts his approval-disapproval on a statistical par with the man who Reid has called a "loser" and a "liar": President Bush. (Reid: 32-51; Bush: 34-53.)

If these numbers hold up, it will make Reid's re-election battle in 2010 a potentially difficult matter. This exposes Reid to political challenges that used to be unthinkable to either the majority or minority leader in the chamber. After more than 50 years of relative peace and electoral calm for Senate floor leaders, Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) narrowly lost his re-election battle in 2004 while he was minority leader. And this year, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and outside liberal allies of Reid's have been pounding Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) back home with ads accusing him of toeing Bush's line, hoping to Daschleize the Kentucky Republican.

Some Senate insiders, possibly reading the Mason-Dixon Poll, have begun whispering about a Reid retirement in 2010, which would set off a race to succeed him as Democratic leader. But his staff has unequivocally rejected that notion: "Get in line and get used to waiting because Sen. Reid isn't going anywhere anytime soon," the Majority Leader's spokesman, Jim Manley, told Roll Call last week. (Subscription required.)

By Paul Kane  |  October 24, 2007; 5:08 PM ET
Categories:  Dem. Leaders , Senate  
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Harry, your constituents are so over you. They do not want a DINO Bush enabler. Get ready for an upset in the Democratic primary. You will get what you deserve, which is unemployment!

Personally, I think you should be impeached along with the rest of the Republican and DINO enablers who have failed to protect and uphold the Constitution. You have mutinied against the 2006 voters wishes and you are all traitors to WE THE PEOPLE.

Posted by: Kevin Schmidt, Sterling VA | October 24, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

While Reid may be unpopular now, he is no way regarded in the same manner as that disgraceful joke Jim Gibbons. At least Reid is coherent. As a native Nevadan who has observed the senior senator for many years, I would say to Nevada Republicans rubbing their hands at Reid's plight: Don't underestimate him. He is tougher than you think.

Posted by: vegasgirl | October 24, 2007 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Pshaw. 2010 is a long way off and we'll have a new POTUS (D or R). If you don't see that the winds of political fortune could totally change by then you've been drinking way too much political Kool Aid.

Posted by: judgeccrater | October 25, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Reid needs a message to be sent to him by his public. "Get active as a positive infuence against the Bush policies or else" His non actions against this administration are traitorous to the American people and to the Democratic party. An outcry for change is what is needed instead of just going along.

Posted by: e pheanis | October 25, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I don't know the dictionary explanation for the noun "Jerk"
Nevertheless, I know one when I see one. Harry Reid is a jerk.

Posted by: Con Gorman | October 25, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

As a C-Span junkie who has watched Sen. Harry Reid since he was Democratic whip to Sen. Daschle, I have concluded that Harry Reid is a mensch who cares very deeply about the people in his state of Nevada as well as the country at large. He is also one of the most honest politicians you can find. He deserves our respect. It isn't easy being a majority leader when you only have a bare majority of votes in the Senate. He has been very strong against the war and on other issues Democrats care about. I wish Sen. Reid the best.

Posted by: Jason Platt | October 25, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Video Of The Senate Climate Hearing Featuring CDC Chief Dr. Gerberding

This is the hearing featuring CDC chief Dr. Julie Gerberding, the testimony of whom was censored by the Bush administration. The video includes information in the Q&A which the administration hoped to avoid exposing.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 25, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

As an individual who is truly concerned for a strong democratic victory in '08, Harry Reid totally turns me off. He is about as exciting as a bowl of watered down saltine crackers. We need someone who can boldly lead the charge to save our country. Reid may be tough and able to take a lot, but that is not the answer. We need leadership!!! We need someone who can create a storm. . . some one to get out in front and help get rid of the Neocons who have wrecked this country. . . .

Posted by: Jim Reed | October 26, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Whether for Harry Reid or Tom Daschle, the dissatisfaction stems not as much from their seeming impotence in dealing with the Bush juggernaut, but the general anger and unhappiness felt in the face of corporate fund-raising and lobby groups that have bought our government, paid for the smear campaigns, put progressives on the defensive and made possible the incredible mish-mash we call a foreign policy, which, though killing thousands of people, still brings profits to the Blackwaters and the Kellogg, Brown and Roots of the world.

Posted by: Dick Brandlon | October 26, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I saw George Bush's rise to power in Texas and then in national politics. The Democrats are really foolish to not see what is happening.

Harry Reid [and Nancy P for that matter] is an anti-Bush. His rhetoric and position is virtuously effortless; learn George Bush's position and take the opposite position with a passion. GWB has been beating the pants off of anti-Bush opponents for years who are too foolish to realize that their approach allows him to control the dialogue. A footnote . . . GWB loves opponents who believe him to be stupid. They never know what hit them.

By the way, a similar situation emerged in Louisiana in the 1920s and 1930s . .they were then the Longs and the anti-Longs. At least the anti-Longs had the intellectual honesty to admit they were taking the lazy route.

Posted by: Randy T | December 30, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

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