The netroots have served a warning to Harry Reid over health care reform. Don’t even think about dropping a public option, they say, if you like your job. CBS News reports that liberal activists have pledged to undermine Reid’s re-election effort if the final Senate version of ObamaCare does not include government-run coverage:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is feeling the heat from his liberal colleagues to include a government-run health insurance plan, or “public option,” in the Senate health care bill.
Now, as Reid and other negotiators move closer to unveiling their health care plan, liberal advocacy groups are ratcheting up the pressure, saying they will run Reid out of Washington if he does not bring a public option to the Senate floor. With a tough re-election bid ahead of Reid next year, the liberal “Netroots” could potentially make good on their threat. Coming from a purple state, that puts Reid between a rock and a hard place — and has some local progressive activists at least somewhat worried.
One television ad pressuring Reid to support the public option is already out: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) is running a spot for at least five days in Las Vegas called “Is Harry Reid Strong Enough?”
The netroots tried something similar to Joe Lieberman in 2006, too. They succeeded in getting Ned Lamont past Lieberman in the primaries, but Lieberman ran as an independent and won the general election. That took place in deep-blue Connecticut, not in reddish-purple Nevada. Lieberman was vulnerable on the war in his state, which is why Lamont was able to beat him in the primary, but lost the general election despite the Democratic endorsement.
If they mount a challenge to Reid’s left, it might be the best thing that ever happened — to Reid. He has made a mess out of leading 60 Democrats in the Senate, as yesterday’s vote on the Doctor-Fix bill demonstrated amply. In Nevada, Reid has gotten more associated with the radical-Left politics of Nancy Pelosi, which doesn’t play will in Nevada and has cost him tremendously in polling there. Frankly, he could use a little separation from the netroots.
However, the result of a split among Democrats in Nevada will be to make a Republican win there much more likely. Reid doesn’t have many options; if he pushes a public option, it’s likely to fail and make him look even more weak than he does now. If he doesn’t push a public option, his base fractures even further in the state, and his base is all he has left there.