Harry Reid

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Harry Reid
Harry Reid official portrait 2009.jpg
Senate Majority Leader
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2015
DeputyDick Durbin
Preceded byBill Frist
Succeeded byMitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader
In office
January 3, 2015 – January 3, 2017
DeputyDick Durbin
Preceded byMitch McConnell
Succeeded byChuck Schumer
In office
January 3, 2005 – January 3, 2007
DeputyDick Durbin
Preceded byTom Daschle
Succeeded byMitch McConnell
Senate Minority Whip
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2005
LeaderTom Daschle
Preceded byDon Nickles
Succeeded byDick Durbin
In office
January 20, 2001 – June 6, 2001
LeaderTom Daschle
Preceded byDon Nickles
Succeeded byDon Nickles
In office
January 3, 1999 – January 3, 2001
LeaderTom Daschle
Preceded byWendell Ford
Succeeded byDon Nickles
Senate Majority Whip
In office
June 6, 2001 – January 3, 2003
LeaderTom Daschle
Preceded byDon Nickles
Succeeded byMitch McConnell
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 20, 2001
LeaderTom Daschle
Preceded byDon Nickles
Succeeded byDon Nickles
United States Senator
from Nevada
In office
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 2017
Preceded byPaul Laxalt
Succeeded byCatherine Cortez Masto
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Nevada's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1987
Preceded byJames Santini (At-large)
Succeeded byJames Bilbray
Chair of the Nevada Gaming Commission
In office
March 27, 1977 – January 5, 1981
Appointed byMike O'Callaghan
Preceded byPeter Echeverria
Succeeded byCarl Dodge
25th Lieutenant Governor of Nevada
In office
January 4, 1971 – January 5, 1975
GovernorMike O'Callaghan
Preceded byEdward Fike
Succeeded byRobert Rose
Personal details
BornHarry Mason Reid
(1939-12-02) December 2, 1939 (age 78)
Searchlight, Nevada, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Landra Gould (m. 1959)
Children5 (notably Rory)
EducationSouthern Utah University
Utah State University (BA)
George Washington University (JD)
WebsiteSenate website (Archived)

Harry Mason Reid (/rd/; born December 2, 1939) is a retired American politician who served as a United States Senator from Nevada from 1987 to 2017. He served as the leader of the Senate Democrats from 2005 to 2017 and as the Senate Majority Leader from 2007 to 2015.

Reid began his public career as the city attorney for Henderson, Nevada, before winning election to the Nevada Assembly. Reid's former boxing coach, Mike O'Callaghan, chose Reid as his running mate in the 1970 Nevada gubernatorial election, and Reid served as Lieutenant Governor of Nevada from 1971 to 1975. After being defeated in races for the United States Senate and the position of Mayor of Las Vegas, Reid served as chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission from 1977 to 1981. From 1983 to 1987, Reid represented Nevada's 1st district in the United States House of Representatives.

Reid won election to the United States Senate in 1986 and served in the Senate from 1987 to 2017. He served as the Senate Democratic Whip from 1999 to 2005 before succeeding Tom Daschle as Senate Minority Leader. The Democrats won control of the Senate after the 2006 Senate elections and Reid became the Senate Majority Leader in 2007. He held that position for the last two years of George W. Bush's presidency and the first six years of Barack Obama's presidency. As Majority Leader, he helped pass major legislation such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Act, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Republicans took control of the Senate following the 2014 Senate elections, and Reid served as Senate Minority Leader from 2015 to his retirement in 2017.

Reid was succeeded as the Senate Democratic leader by Chuck Schumer, whose leadership bid had been endorsed by Reid. Along with Alben W. Barkley and Mike Mansfield, Reid is one of only three Senators to serve at least eight years as Majority Leader.

Early life and early career[edit]

Reid was born in Searchlight, Nevada, the third of four sons of Harry Vincent Reid, a miner, and Inez Orena (Jaynes) Reid, a laundress. His father committed suicide with a gunshot to the head in 1972, at age 58, when Harry was 32 years old.[1][2] His paternal grandmother was an English immigrant from Darlaston, Staffordshire. Reid's boyhood home was a shack with no indoor toilet, hot water, or telephone.[1][3] Since Searchlight had no high school, Reid boarded with relatives 40 miles away in Henderson, Nevada to attend Basic High School,[1] where he played football, and was an amateur boxer.[4] While at Basic High, he met future Nevada governor Mike O'Callaghan, who was a teacher there and served as Reid's boxing coach. Reid attended Southern Utah University, and graduated from Utah State University where he double majored in political science and history.[5] He minored in economics at Utah State's School of Commerce and Business Administration.[6] He then went to George Washington University Law School earning a J.D. while working for the United States Capitol Police.

Early political career[edit]

State politics[edit]

Reid returned to Nevada after law school and served as Henderson city attorney before being elected to the Nevada Assembly for the multi-member fourth district of Clark County in 1968. In 1970, at age 30, Reid was chosen by O'Callaghan as his running mate for Lieutenant Governor of Nevada. Reid and O'Callaghan won the race, and Reid served as lieutenant governor from 1971 until 1974, when he ran for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Alan Bible. He lost by fewer than 700 votes to former governor Paul Laxalt. In 1975, Reid ran for mayor of Las Vegas and lost to Bill Briare.[7]

Reid served as chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission from 1977 to 1981. When Jack Gordon, La Toya Jackson's future agent and husband, offered Reid a $12,000 bribe to get approval of new games for casinos, Reid brought in the FBI to tape Gordon's bribery attempt and arrest him. After FBI agents interrupted the transaction, as prearranged, Reid lost his temper and attempted to choke Gordon, saying "You son of a bitch, you tried to bribe me!" before agents stopped him. Gordon was convicted in 1979 and sentenced to six months in prison. In 1981, Reid's wife found a bomb attached to the family station wagon; Reid suspected it was placed by Gordon, although this has never been proven in a court of law.[1]

U.S. Representative[edit]

Prior to the 1980 Census, Nevada had only a single at-large member in the United States House of Representatives, but population growth in the 1970s resulted in the state picking up a second district. Reid won the Democratic nomination for the 1st district, based in Las Vegas, in 1982, and easily won the general election. He served two terms in the House, from 1983 to 1987.

U.S. Senate[edit]

Reid in 2002


In 1986, Reid won the Democratic nomination for the seat of retiring two-term incumbent Republican Senator Paul Laxalt. Reid defeated former at-large Congressman Jim Santini, a Democrat who had turned Republican, in the November election. Reid ran for reelection in 1992 which he won by a double-digit margin. In 1998 he narrowly defeated 1st District Congressman John Ensign in the midst of a statewide Republican sweep. In 2004, Reid won reelection with 61 percent of the vote, defeating Richard Ziser, and gaining the endorsement of several Republicans.[citation needed]

Ensign was elected to Nevada's other Senate seat in 2000. Ensign and Reid had a very good relationship despite their bitter contest in 1998. The two frequently worked together on Nevada issues until Ensign was forced to resign from his Senate seat.[8]

Reid won the Democratic nomination with 75% of the vote in the June 8 primary. He faced a very competitive general election for the Senate in Nevada in 2010. Reid engaged in a $1 million media campaign to "reintroduce himself" to state's voters.[9] He defeated Republican challenger Sharron Angle in the November election, 50.3% to 44.6%, despite losing 14 of Nevada's 17 counties.

In January 2015, Reid suffered severe injuries in an exercise accident.[10] On March 27, 2015, Reid uploaded a video to his YouTube account announcing that he would not seek re-election in November 2016. Reid endorsed New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D) to succeed him as Minority Leader.[11] He was succeeded by former Nevada Attorney General and fellow Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto.

On January 1, 2017, two days before the end of his term, Reid surpassed Sen. John P. Jones to become the longest-serving Senator from Nevada.[12]


From 1999 to 2005, Reid served as Senate Democratic Whip, as minority whip from 1999 to 2001, and again from 2003 to 2005. Reid was majority whip from 2001 to 2003, except for a brief period from January to May 2001. From 2001 to 2003, he served as chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee. Reid succeeded Tom Daschle as minority leader in 2005, and became majority leader after the 2006 election until 2015.

Committee assignments[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Reid scored a lifetime conservative rating of 19% from the American Conservative Union (ACU),[13] and a 2008 liberal rating of 70% from the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA).[14] Other independent ratings include a 29% rating in 2003 from NARAL, the abortion rights group,[15] an 85% rating from Planned Parenthood in 2013,[16] and a "B" rating from the National Rifle Association.[17]