Harry Reid, the former Senate Majority leader, has died at the age of 82. He served in Congress between 1983 until his retirement in 2017. Reid was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018 and declared in 2019 that his cancer had returned. In addition to his tenure as a federal politician, he was also once the chair of the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC).
The Passing of a Political Icon
Reid began his public life as a Henderson, Nevada city attorney. In 1968, he was elected to the Nevada Assembly. Reid’s ex-boxing coach Mike O’Callaghan elected Reid as his running partner in the 1970 Nevada gubernatorial race.
Reid also served as Lieutenant Governor from 1971 to 1975. Reid was defeated as a candidate for the United States Senate. In addition to serving as the mayor of Las Vegas, Reid also served as the NGC chairman from 1977 until 1981. The Nevada Democrat represented Nevada’s first district in the US House of Representatives from 1983 through 1987.
Reid served as the majority leader of the Senate from 2007 to 2015. His use of the “nuclear options” in 2013 was his most prominent accomplishment. In addition, he led the charge against the filibuster regarding nominees to the executive branch and other judicial vacancies to the Supreme Court.
The long-time politician was first elected in 1969. He then served as a member of the Nevada Assembly until 1971. After serving as Lieutenant Governor of Nevada between 1971-1975, Reid was elected to the US House of Representatives first district in Nevada in 1982. In 1987, he was elected for the first time to the Senate.
Chuck Schumer of New York stated Tuesday that Reid was “one the most remarkable individuals he had ever met. He added, “He was my leader and mentor, one of my dearest friends.”
Reid played an important role in helping to push the agenda for former President Barack Obama. Reid led the charge towards unifying all 60 Democratic caucus members to support the Affordable Care Act in 2009.
Despite widespread criticism of the law during the 2010 midterm election, Reid defeated Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle by six points. Meanwhile, other Republicans won a stunning landslide election for the House.
Reid Unafraid to Speak His Mind
Reid indicted journalists during a 2008 session with the media for not understanding the nuances behind a parliamentary strategy on energy legislation. Reid warned the journalists that they needed to be more attentive on the floor. Another reporter asked Reid about his procedural plan but was still unclear following the explanation. Reid proceeded to ask the reporter if “she spoke English” and if she was hard of hearing.
Reid suggested she turn up her Miracle-Ear.
During the 2008 dedication of the new US Capitol Visitor’s Center, he told visitors, “In the summertime, because of the high humidity and how hot it gets here, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol.”
Reid’s passing comes only weeks after McCarran International Airport was renamed the Harry Reid International Airport in his honor.
He is survived by his wife, Landra Gould, and five children.