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Posted at 6:01 PM ET, 02/24/2011

Why is Harry Reid going after prostitution? (Poll)

By Rachel Weiner



Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to a joint session of the Nevada Legislature. AP photo by Cathleen Allison.

Two days after Harry Reid decided to go after Nevada's legalized prostitution, there's no clear sign of why, exactly, the Senate Majority Leader took on this fight.

"It's really perplexing because I've known Sen. Reid, done business with Sen. Reid for years," said Lance Gillman, a Reno-area developer and brothel owner: "His choice here is really unusual."

Still, there are some theories. Here's what we've got:

1. He means what he says. Reid honestly thinks that prostitution is bad for business in the state (despite reports that it has little effect). He thinks Nevada needs to give up its unseemly side to bring in new companies. Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston suggests that this is the case; staffers tried to talk the senator out of it.

2. He did it to sabotage John Ensign. The embattled Republican senator on Wednesday broke with Reid, saying legalized prostitution should be left alone. Naturally, that only gives Democrats a chance to remind voters of Ensign's sex scandal -- as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee did in an email blast on Thursday afternoon.

3. He did it to get revenge on rural counties. Brothels are powerful in rural areas, and Reid only won one of Nevada's 15 rural counties in the 2010 election. "It looks like to me that this is his payback, this is your punishment," Dennis Hof, a brothel owner, told a local paper. But

4. Religion. Reid is a Mormon; even though he grew up around brothels, he could have had a religious change of heart.

What do you think?

By Rachel Weiner  | February 24, 2011; 6:01 PM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party, Senate  | Tags:  Harry Reid  
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