Friday, July 23, 2010
Harry Mason Reid
Harry Mason Reid (born December 2, 1939) is the senior United States Senator from Nevada and a member of the Democratic Party. First elected to the Senate in 1986, he was re-elected in 1992, 1998, and 2004, and is currently seeking a fifth term in 2010.
Reid has been the Senate Majority Leader since January 2007, having previously served as Minority Leader from 2005 until the Democrats won control of the Senate in the 2006 midterm elections. He earlier served as Senate Minority Whip (1999–2001, 2001, 2003–2005) and Senate Majority Whip (2001, 2001–2003).
Before his election to the Senate, Reid was a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Nevada's 1st congressional district from 1983 to 1987. A native of Searchlight and graduate of Utah State University and George Washington University Law School, he previously served as city attorney of Henderson (1964–1966), a member of the Nevada Assembly (1969–1970), Lieutenant Governor of Nevada (1970–1974), and chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission (1977–1981).
Reid apologized on January 9, 2010, for racially charged comments he had made when President Obama was campaigning for president. In private conversations, Reid had remarked that Obama could win the Presidency because the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama—who he referred to as being "light-skinned" and "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one". These comments had been recently revealed by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann in Game Change, their book about the 2008 election. In addition to his public apology, Reid called President Obama to apologize; Obama accepted his apology, stating that as far as he was concerned, the book was closed on the incident. RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Senators John Cornyn and Jon Kyl called on Reid to resign his leadership position in the Senate citing Majority Leader Trent Lott resigning because of a statement relating to race. However, this has virtually no chance of happening according to multiple experts. DNC Chairman Tim Kaine and Senators Dianne Feinstein and Jack Reed expressed support for Reid and confidence he would retain his leadership position, and another senior Democrat indicated Reid has "produced supportive statements from key African American leaders in the Congress and civil rights community".
Reid is a first generation member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon or LDS Church). Reid and his wife, who was born to Jewish immigrant parents and grew up in Henderson, converted to Mormonism while Reid was a college student. In a 2001 interview he said, "I think it is much easier to be a good member of the Church and a Democrat than a good member of the Church and a Republican." He went on to say that the Democrats' emphasis on helping others, as opposed to what he considers Republican dogma to the contrary, is the reason he's a Democrat. He delivered a speech at Brigham Young University to about 20,000 students on October 9, 2007, in which he expressed his opinion that Democratic values mirror Mormon values. Reid remains active in his congregations in Washington and Nevada, though he contrasts with the generally conservative Mormon population in the United States. Several Republican Mormons in Utah have contested his faith because of his politics, such as his private comments that the church's backing of California's Proposition 8 wasted resources.