Reid Raises $7.7 Million for Re-Election Bid

By CQ Politics, CQ Politics - April 17, 2009

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid 's 2010 re-election strategy is becoming clear: Come out swinging hard enough to scare a potential opponent away from even entering the ring.

The Nevada Democrat and former amateur boxer's 2010 fundraising efforts appear on pace to shatter his personal record, despite the fact that Republicans "” emboldened by polls suggesting that the majority leader could be vulnerable to a challenge "” have yet to identify an opponent.

Reid raised $2.2 million during the first three months of the year, bringing his total receipts this cycle to $7.7 million, according to a quarterly report filed this week with the Federal Election Commission. Reid closed out the first quarter with nearly two-thirds of that money, or $5.1 million, as cash on hand.

"He's sending a message that if you are going to take him on you better be very well financed and prepared for a very tough election,"� said Eric Herzik, chairman of the University of Nevada at Reno's political science department. "Reid's not taking anything for granted and is willing to just bulldoze his way through this election."�

With about a year and a half to go before the 2010 election, Reid's campaign receipts are getting close to surpassing the roughly $8.9 million he raised during the six years prior to the 2004 election, in which he handily bested Republican Richard Ziser to secure a fourth full term. Reid already has exceeded the $5.2 million he raised for his closely contested 1998 campaign against now-Sen. John Ensign , a race that ultimately was decided by fewer than 500 votes.

"This campaign is off to a very strong start and it will only get stronger,"� Reid said in a statement, adding that he would continue to make creating jobs in Nevada a priority, along with promising "clean energy"� and "affordable"� health care.

On March 30, Reid launched the Reid Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee with the Nevada Democratic party designed to enable Reid to band with local party organizers to raise money and divide the proceeds. In just two days, that committee reported raising $84,200.

Herzik said the rate at which Reid was raking in the cash is particularly impressive for Nevada, a state with just two major media markets, Las Vegas and Reno. The fund-raising pace also is more notable because of the current economic downturn.

The 2010 election will be Reid's first since becoming the leader of Senate Democrats following the 2004 loss of his predecessor and close friend, Tom Daschle, to Republican John Thune in South Dakota. Reid has said he is aware that Republicans are gunning for him and that he is determined not to repeat Daschle's fate.

"I know I have a target on my back and on my front,"� Reid told reporters last month. "But I feel comfortable that I will be competitive."�

Still, Republicans are having trouble settling on a candidate. Former Republican Rep. Jon Porter (2003-09) appears to be backing away from considering a challenge, and another potential opponent "” Lt. Gov. Brian K. Krolicki "” is under indictment for allegedly mishandling state funds.

Demographic trends also work in Reid's favor. Democratic voter registration has soared, prompted by the 2008 Democratic presidential caucuses in the state.

As of November, there were 113,645 more registered Democrats than Republicans in Nevada. That's dramatically different from November 2004, when Republicans held a 3,216-voter edge over Democrats "” and Reid cruised to a fourth term.

Emily Cadei contributed to this story.

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