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Does Scott Brown's Massachusetts victory mean more trouble for Nevada's Harry Reid?

January 21, 2010 |  2:04 pm

Even before the stunning senatorial upset by Scott Brown this week in Massachusetts, gaffe-prone Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was facing terrible poll numbers and a grueling reelection campaign.

Scott Brown

Now, Nevada Democrats are fretting that Brown’s victory could portend the majority leader’s defeat. Reid has become the face of healthcare reform, President Obama's signature domestic policy initiative, and voters’ disdain for it was a key reason Brown decisively won the seat long held by the late Edward M. Kennedy.

The healthcare package -- which will probably be dramatically scaled back -- hasn’t gone over well with Nevadans. In a poll this month for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, only one-third of people surveyed backed the overhaul, even though more than half a million Silver State residents lack health insurance.

It’s a safe bet that Nevadans -- coping with a 12.3% unemployment rate, a moribund tourism industry, dwindling construction, a shrinking population and the despondency that comes with it all -- are more concerned with pocketbook issues than healthcare.

Though the economic stimulus package has been credited with saving thousands of jobs here, particularly in education, it was sold as a job-creation -- not a job-retention -- bill. Folks who scaled their way into the middle class via the casinos or real estate have watched their job security and home equity disappear. They’re probably wondering:

Where’s my new job?

Why is D.C. so fixated on healthcare when I can’t pay my bills?

Why is Washington so out of touch?

This is how politicians end up, well, unemployed. Reid appears to understand this, with an initial campaign ad that claimed his Washington juice ...

... had helped rescue the massive new CityCenter hotel-casino complex -- and its 12,000 jobs.

If the Nevada economy can somewhat mend itself by November, Reid and his war chest (he hopes to raise $25 million) might be able to eke out a victory.

Of course, that’s assuming he faces one of the second-tier GOP front-runners, such as the Miss New Jersey-turned-anchorwoman or the son of controversial college basketball legend Jerry Tarkanian.Reid

In the wake of the Massachusetts election, however, Republicans appear to be scouring the state for stronger candidates. Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who has won three statewide campaigns, said this week that he was reconsidering diving into the Senate race, partly because of the encouragement of Arizona Sen. John McCain.

What other Senate candidate did the onetime GOP presidential nominee recently support? Some nobody named Scott Brown.

-- Ashley Powers

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Top photo: Scott Brown after meeting with Harry Reid in Washington today. Credit: Associated Press. Bottom photo: Reid on Wednesday. Credit: Getty Images.