In a wide-ranging interview with the Capitol press corps Tuesday, Sen. Harry Reid said Democrats will field a “respectable candidate” to oppose Republican incumbent Brian Sandoval.
But even though he said he has had conversations with “a couple of people who are interested,” the Senate Majority Leader declined to identify them.
“You’ll find out,” he said.
Filing for that and other partisan elective offices opens in just two weeks. Reid’s comments came the same day Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, announced he will not challenge Sandoval.
Reid said he plans to bring back the extension of federal unemployment benefits and push for the increase in the minimum wage sought by President Obama.
He pointed out that the unemployment-benefits extension failed in the Senate by just one vote, adding that “there’s tremendous pressure on a number of Republicans, and we’ve got all the Democrats.”
He called raising the minimum wage “extremely important.”
“Two-thirds of the people who get minimum wage are women,” Reid said, adding, “They can’t deny that the rich are getting richer in America and the poor are getting poorer.”
He said Republicans in Congress are on the wrong side of those and other significant issues. He said 90 percent of Americans support keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill — including a majority of Republican citizens.
“The only Republicans who don’t believe that are the Republicans in Congress,” he said.
Reid said two-thirds of Americans back increasing the minimum wage, which he said would lift more than a million people out of poverty.
On the health care law, he said, “The roll-out of Obamacare was certainly bad, but understand, it’s a huge program — bigger than Social Security, bigger than Medicaid or Medicare.”
He asked whether anyone truly thinks it would be better to go back to the way it was when people lost insurance coverage because their bills were too high or were denied coverage because of conditions such as diabetes.
The problem is Democrats are getting no help from Republicans on those issues, Reid said.
“As it is now, we’re doing everything administratively,” he said.
Reid said that because Republican positions in Congress don’t match those of the country, he doesn’t necessarily see his party losing seats in this year’s elections.
Reid reiterated a position that has drawn criticism in Nevada in the past: his desire to eliminate to the remaining pockets of legal prostitution in the state.
Doing so, he said, “I think is good for the state.”
He said he supports the push to bring the Republican National Convention to Las Vegas but sees legal prostitution as a potential roadblock in that effort.
Asked about the public’s historically low approval rating of Congress, Reid blamed in large part Republican obstruction that started when, right after Obama’s election, the GOP made it the party’s top priority to prevent his re-election — an effort that failed. But he said he understands the American people’s frustrations.
“I don’t blame them for not liking Congress,” he said.
“I don’t blame them for not liking Congress.”
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.