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What are the odds Nevada GOP can find someone to beat Harry Reid?

August 13, 2009 |  2:14 pm

For months, Harry Reids dismal home state poll numbers -- including an awful 34% favorability rating  -- have allowed Republicans to crow that, essentially, even an Elvis impersonator could topple the Nevada Democrat and Senate party leader in next year's election. Think Tom Daschle's defeat in 2004.

OK, guys. It’s time to find out.

Nevada Rep. Dean Heller, the GOP’s top hope, declined this week to take on the Senate Majority Leader (and, in terms of fundraising, the potential $25 Million Man, thanks in part to President Obama's appearance). Heller said he wants to spend time with family and the political timing wasn’t quite right.

Nevada Republican Representative Dean Heller

Plus -- and these are our words -- there’s an albatross dragging down the state GOP.

Can you say Sen. John Ensign?

In an interview with the state's uber-pundit, Jon Ralston, Heller admitted that Ensign’s string of admissions -- he had an extramarital affair with a married staffer whose family received $96,000 in “gifts” from Ensign’s parents after she and her husband left his employ (whew!) -- weighed heavily on Heiler's decision not to run.

“Sen. Ensign had to be there when I announced,” he said. “Sen. Ensign had to deflect some of the attacks that would have occurred in a very rough-and-tumble campaign like that. All of a sudden that variable was out.”

(Heller also suggested that Ensign end his extended silence regarding the affair. Johnny Casino, are you listening?)

So, who’s left?

There’s Sue Lowden, the telegenic state GOP chairwoman.

Harry's response to her possible candidacy? "I like Sue Lowden. Her husband and I are close friends. She couldn't get elected to the state Senate. She was against mammograms for women," he told Politics Daily, which noted that Reid's assertions weren't quite true.

There's Danny Tarkanian, fresh off a bizarre libel case left over from a losing campaign. State Sen. Mark Amodei, a Carson City Republican. Perennial candidate Sharron Angle.

And several more, two of whom, in this economic climate, could really test the theory that any ol’ Republican could take out Reid in the Silver state: a retired Chrysler executive and a New York banker.

Nevada politics: Not always pretty, but what a show!

-- Ashley Powers

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Photo: Rep. Dean Heller

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