After a nearly 50 year career in politics, having consistently had a seat of some sort in the United States Congressional House since 1982, Harry Reid shocked the Capitol when he announced that his current term will also be his last. The 75-year old is currently serving his fifth term as the United States Senate representative for Nevada, in addition to being the reigning Senate Minority Leader at Congress. While Reid plans to finish his current term, he will forgo a reelection bid in 2016 in lieu of retirement.
A close friend of Obama, the senator has gained notoriety in recent years for frequently criticizing and objecting to the actions of the Republican party. In particular, he received a lot of backlash from GOP members for his deeply involved role in pushing and organizing Obamacare, and more recently, his support of relaxed immigration laws, a sharp contrast to the strong opposition he had towards such measures in the past. He has also drawn a lot of attention for his feud with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the two having had numerous clashes in the House over the years. While some may peg Reid as nothing more than a “GOP Bully,” he is widely admired by many for his strong will and determined focus when dealing with issues, even more so in his home state of Nevada.
Already widely considered to be up there in the years, when Reid announced his plans to retire in 2016, there was immediate speculation that it was due to failing health. Some pointing out to an incident that occurred on the first day of 2015, where he experienced injuries to his right eye and face due to an accident while exercising, as well as previous insistence that he would be running again as evidence. Reid himself has asserted that this is not the case, insisting that aside from his facial injuries he is in otherwise fine health. Instead, he has asserted that his choice to retire is due to a desire to “go out at the top of my game.”
One question looming over the heads of many is who would be a good replacement for him. Reid has already endorsed New York Senator Charles E. Schumer to be his replacement at the Capitol, but declined to endorse anyone as a replacement for his Senate seat in Nevada. Some have already given suggestions, including recently elected state senator, Michael Roberson, House representative Dina Titus and former assemblywoman Lucy Flores. Former State Attorney General for Nevada, Catherine Masto, has also announced that she is considering making a bid for the Senate seat in 2016.
In an interview following his announcement, Reid noted the many changes within Congress, most of which he believes are for the better. “This place is so much better because of women,” he said in regards to growing number of female members in the Senate. He also stated that his main focus in the remaining months of his tenure will be to place restrictions on unlimited spending. As his tenure comes to a close, many have said they will miss Reid when he retires, but at the same time remain hopeful for anything new brought to the table by whoever fills his shoes in 2016.
By Philip Cunningham
Photo by: Geri Kodey – Flickr License