Well, who could blame them? After Harry Reid used the Senate floor for weeks to demagogue the owners of Koch Industries for their legal and instructive engagement in the political process, he had to be expecting a little pushback. The Kochs don’t do anything small, however, and Politico’s Ken Vogel and Burgess Everett report that they are laying the foundation for a two-year effort to send the Senate Majority Leader into a much-deserved political oblivion:
Harry Reid’s reelection is more than two years off, but the Koch brothers’ political machine is already methodically laying the groundwork that will be used to try to take him out.
The efforts in recent months have been largely subterranean, but they are unmistakable. A handful of nonprofit groups in the vast political network helmed by allies of the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch have established or expanded permanent ground operations in Reid’s backyard. Focused on wooing key demographics like Latinos and veterans, they’ve also paid for ads assailing the Senate Democratic leader. …
As Reid last week ambled from an SUV to a side entrance of an MGM Grand here for a speech to the supportive United Steelworkers International Convention, he told POLITICO he wasn’t worried about the Koch forces’ buildup in his backyard. “I’ve always been targeted. … That’s not news,” he said, playfully dismissing a question about whether there was a personal element to the Koch effort. “I don’t see that they have any reason to come after me. Why would they?”
“Ladies and gentlemen, when I was walking in here today, somebody grabbed me from one of the Washington publications and said ‘the Koch brothers say they’re here organizing in Nevada,’” Reid regaled the crowd. “I said ‘why would they be worried about me? What have I done to bother them?’”
After allowing a brief, dramatic pause, he answered his own question boastfully: “Only everything I can, right?”
Reid’s bravado aside, he has bigger fish to fry at the moment. His biggest struggle is staying Majority Leader in the Senate for the next two years, and that’s looking less and less likely as the midterm campaigns heat up. He blew up the Montana race, which is unwinnable now, and the South Dakota race as well. He bragged to a Reno newspaper that the Democrats are in good position to retain control of the upper chamber, unless …
In the face of a challenging electoral landscape for his party in this year’s midterms, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid predicted this week they’ll hold onto their tenuous majority in the Senate barring some unforeseen incident.
“We’ll keep the majority unless something unexpected happens,”the Nevada Democrat told the Reno Gazette-Journal ahead of a local party confab Sunday.
Mr. Reid’s party currently holds a five-seat majority in the upper chamber, but open seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia appear likely to flip to the GOP at this point. That means Republicans essentially need to unseat at least three incumbent Democrats in a handful of winnable races in states like North Carolina, Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana, while retaining GOP-held seats in competitive races in Kentucky and Georgia, to re-take control of the chamber.
That’s for public consumption. Privately, Reid is seething over a White House that isn’t lifting a finger to help him on the election or much of anything else, the New York Times reports:
To Democrats in Congress who have worked with Mr. Obama, the indifference conveyed to Mr. Reid, one of the president’s most indispensable supporters, was frustratingly familiar. In one sense, Mr. Obama’s response was a reminder of what made him such an appealing figure in the first place: his almost innate aversion to the partisan squabbles that have left Americans so jaded and disgruntled with their political system. But nearly six years into his term, with his popularity at the lowest of his presidency, Mr. Obama appears remarkably distant from his own party on Capitol Hill, with his long neglect of would-be allies catching up to him.
In interviews, nearly two dozen Democratic lawmakers and senior congressional aides suggested that Mr. Obama’s approach has left him with few loyalists to effectively manage the issues erupting abroad and at home and could imperil his efforts to leave a legacy in his final stretch in office.
Grumbling by lawmakers about a president is nothing unusual. But what is striking now is the way prominent Democrats’ views of Mr. Obama’s shortcomings are spilling out into public, and how resigned many seem that the relationship will never improve. In private meetings, Mr. Reid’s chief of staff, David Krone, has voiced regular dismay to lawmakers and top aides about White House operations and competency across a range of issues, according to several Democrats on Capitol Hill.
So yes, Reid has to be a little nervous about what’s coming, especially since it’s mostly self-inflicted. Don’t be surprised if Reid looks for an opening to retire rather than run again in 2016.
Update: I wrote North Dakota when I meant South Dakota. I’ve fixed it above, and thanks to the commenters who flagged the error.