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Running In His Father's Shadow, Reid Zeroes In On Economy

His father is one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington. But Rory Reid said he's running for governor in his home state because, in his words, "We're not going to solve all Nevada's problems here in Washington."

"We've been kicking the can down the road for decades in Nevada," Reid told a group of reporters in Washington Wednesday. He talked about a 1955 Colliers Magazine story that discussed Nevada's "boom-and-bust revenue cycle, an education system with tremendous problems, and gaping holes in its social safety net." " If you erased the date on that story and typed in today's date, it would be exactly the same. And I'm running because we need to change the end of the story."

The story almost everyone else wanted to talk about, though, was the political spectacle that will take place in the Silver State next year when Reid shares the ballot with his father, the Senate majority leader and one of the top GOP targets. The younger Reid, who resembles his father both in appearance and temperament, said he was happy to discuss what he conceded was a "curious" situation. And he came armed with a number of one-liners.

"I love my father more -- than any of you," he deadpanned. "Lots more."

But he says he took the decision to run very seriously, doing "every kind of qualitative and quantitative research that you can do."

"That data and my personal experience lead me to believe that, while it's interesting to talk about, in a race that's yet unformed ultimately I'm going to be running against somebody," he said. "It's a binary decision -- people are going to vote for me or the other person. As they make that decision they're going to consider the thing that any voter does when they make that decision - which one of these candidates will make my life better. That's why they're going to vote for me or not vote for me."

Reid had a relentless focus on the state's economy in the meeting, which took place at the office of the Democratic Governors Association just before the organization's winter meeting. The Clark County Commissioner is being touted by the organization as one of its top candidates in a top-tier race. Reid said he thinks he'll win because he's the only candidate so far whose outlined a detailed plan to reverse Nevada's slide.

"I'm trying to have the campaign of ideas," he said. "The day I announced I challenged the others in this race to either propose something themselves, or I would assume that they agreed with me. So far, everybody agrees with me."

Nevada's incumbent governor is Jim Gibbons, who limped over the finish line in the 2006 race despite a series of scandals that broke on the eve of the election. Since taking office, his woes have continued, and he faces several Republican challengers. It's a situation that should have Democrats bullish over their chances, and Reid, a former state party chairman, said the landscape on paper is very "fertile ground" for Democrats in part because of the impact of the 2008 presidential caucus.

But some are skeptical, citing 'the Reid factor.' The younger Reid refused to speculate about his father's campaign for re-election to the Senate, saying, "I don't want to play in anybody else's sandbox but mine," and again pivoting the question to the economy.

"Every candidate in Nevada should be talking about what he or she is going to do to put Nevadans back to work," he said. "Our unemployment rate is unacceptable. It's doubled in a year. And if somebody isn't talking about putting Nevadans back to work, if they're not waking up a at 2 in the morning staring at the ceiling worrying about it, then they're confused."

This Reid, who said he's running the ideas campaign and criticized earlier politicians who "tend to say nothing," also dodged questions on a number of national issues, including health care and the fresh announcement that President Obama was deploying 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

"I have an opinion that isn't relevant to what the policy will be, so I'm going to work on the things that will matter for Nevadans, that I can affect directly," he said.